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Full text of "Rosbrugh, a tale of the Revolution, or, Life, labors and death of Rev. John Rosbrugh [microform] : pastor of Greenwich, Oxford and Mansfield Woodhouse (Washington) Presbyterian Churches, N.J., from 1764 to 1769, and of Allen Township Church, Pa., from 1769 to 1777 : chaplain in the Continental Army, clerical martyr of the Revolution, killed by Hessians, in the Battle of Assunpink, at Trenton, New Jersey, Jan. 2d, 1777"

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Pastor of Greenwich, Oxford 'and Mansfield Woodhouse ( Washington) Presbyterian churches 
N. J., from 1764 to 1769; and of Allen Township church, Pa., from 1769 fo 1777 .- 



Killed by Hessians, hi llic battle of A.8swnpink , (it Trenton, Hfew tfevsey, ■fun. '?</. fi"il 

Founded upon a paper read before the Ni w Jersey Historical Society at its meeting in 
Trenton, January 15th, 1880/ to which is appended genealogical data of all the Rosbrughs 
of the connection in America: 



Author of "History of Allen Township Presbyterian Church" — of which Dfr. Rosbrugh was 
pastor when MUed — and of "Genealogies, Necrology and Reminiscences of the Irish Settlement, 
Northampton county, Pennsylvania" — where Mr. Rosbrugh recruited his company. 

' ' ' ' , 


1880 ., ,. 

Kiitered according to act of Congress, in the year 1880, by 

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 

1 . ;>S7 

Facsimile of autograph, enlarged in the proportion of 1 to 2, made in 
the Allen Township Church book, November 22d, 1774. 


This Tale of the Revolution, or historical sketch of one who figured in, and lost 
his life amid the scenes connected with that ever memorable struggle, has the following 
history, viz.: The author was invited to make an address, in August, 1879, at the Har- 
vest-home of the Greenwich Presbyterian church, in Warren county, New Jersey. The 
spot designated Cur the festivities was upon the banks of the Pohatcong creek, one-half or 
three-fourths of a mile from the site of the original Greenwich church, in which Rev. 
•John Rosbrugh was ordained to the christian ministry. 

The author thought it might be appropriate and interesting to speak of the beginnings 
of things among the people in whose festivities he had been invited to participate. He 
accordingly spoke of their first pastor, Rev. John Rosbrugh. 

A request was made the same day for a copy of the manuscript that the address might 
be published. As it had been entirely of an extemporaneous character, this requesl 
could not be complied with. The public press however, took up and published an out- 
line of the remarks made, by which means it came to the a ion of an officer of the 
New Jers y Historical Soch ty. A request \vas«preferred by him that the subject-matter 
ofthi add be] i a suitable form for r Hi Leal Society. Ac- 

cordin y th pared the address and read the Society, at its i 

ing in Trenton, Jan. 15th, 1880. 

As the author il itl received a number of applications for i ' of the address, 

he decided to pul the same in print, and therefore the , . founded upon the 

paper read before the Historical Soci . : re in the bands of the reader. 

Tlie ' ited here, has been divided into short  for the conve- 

nience of the reader; and at the head of each ; iven a bri sment of the main 

subje. page. All the are pre! rved which were presented to the 

Histo " I in addition, many things in greater i ' and circum- 

stances then would justify the author in ent< ring upon. 

The final chapter ,has been added in order that the whole of th R I rush connection 
in America might in this brief manner be linked together; and this was thought to be a 
suitable ending, since the two brothers who came across the a i brought forward to- 
gether in the opening of the address. 

As additional information was continually coming to hand whil work was going 

through the press, on a number of points explicit statements will be found in the latter 
pages, which were passed over as uncertain or unknown, in the early part. 

The sources from which the author has drawn information, outside of his own personal 
researches, are duly recognized from time to time as they appear, in the body of the work. 

Bloomsbury, N. J., June, 18S0. J. C. C. 


Fac-simile of autograph, enlarged in the proportion of 1 to 2, made in the Allen Town- 
ship Church book. November 22d, 1774. 

Map to illustrate early history of Rosbrughs in America. 

Map to illustrate the position of the American and British armies previous to the battle 
of Trenton, Dec. 26th, 1776 — at which the Hessians were captured — and the battle of 
Assunpink, or second battle of Trenton, Jan. 2d, 1777 — at winch Mr. Rosbrugh was kill- 

Map to illustrate the march of the American army after the battle of Princeton, to the 

winter-quarters at Morristown, in 1777, winch closed the campaign in which Mr. 

Rosbrugh's company participated. 
DIAGRAM to illustrate the battle of Trenton, Dec. 26th, 1776 — at which the Hessians 

were captured — and the battle of Assunpink, or second battle of Trenton, Jan. 2d, 1777 

— at which Mr. Rosbrugh was killed. 
Diagram to illustrate the battle of Princeton, where Mr. Rosbrugh's company fought, 

Jan. od, 1777. 
. Preface. 



Name. Nativity. Education. 1 


A beneficiary. Licensure. 4 


Preaching points. Old Greenwich. Mansfield Woodhouse. Oxford. 8 


Marriage. James Rosbrugh born. Ecclesiastical fidelity. Discouragements. 12 



Letitia Rosbrugh born. Call to Allen Township. Negotiations for transfer to Allen 
Township Church. Allen Township Church transferred. Installation. 17 

id Nil: NTS. 


Field of labor in Pennsylvania. Mirthfulness. Anecdotes. 21 



Patriotism. Synodical urging and admonition. Friends and neighbors enter army. 
Siege of Fort Washington. Washington's retreat. Excitement in Pennsylvania. 
Increased excitement. Heroic preparations. Families provided for. Schools 
and places of business closed. General Howe arrive- a' Princeton. Washington 
dictatorial. Washington's summons to Northampton. 25 


Mr. Rosbrugh takes the decisive step. The patriotic sermon. Last will and testa- 
ment. The military company formed. Arrival at Philadelphia and first letter 
to wile, Scarcity of salt. Commissioned chaplain. Colonel Siegfried commiss- 
ioned. 38 


Distribution of the Ami rican army. Preparing to capture Hessians. Washington's 
Crossing. March on Trenton. Battle of Trenton and capture of Hessians. Gen- 
eral campaign. Plan of campaign. Favorable providence. The last letter. Brit- 
ish move on Trenton. Battle of Assunpink. Circumstances leading to death. 
Mr. Rosbrugh killed. The burial. Ecclesiastical records of death. 46 


Preliminaries to the battle of Princeton. American-; arrive at Princeton. Battle of 
Princeton. Mr. Rosbrugh's company return home. Provision for soldier-' wives 
and children. Mrs. Rosbrugh's trials. Petitioning the Executive. Mrs. Ros- 
brugh granted redress. Orphans Court proceedings. Mrs. Rosbrugh's death and 
burial. Genealogical record of Rev. John Rosbrugh's descendants. 61 



Historical and genealogical record of the family, in the United States and Canada. 


A. Thatcher family. B. "A relic of Northampton county." C. Robert Rosbrugh family. 






The evil that men do, lives after them ; 

But the good i§ oft interred with their bones. 


If illustrations were sought to prove that the reverse of this is 
true in many cases, perhaps no more suitable one could bo found 
than may be drawn from the life and death of the one who is made 
the subject of this sketch, and whom we may appropriately desig- 
nate Clerical Martyr of the Revolution. Amid all the light 
thrown upon his career socially, ecclesiastically and politically — by 
tradition and historical record — nothing but the good he did lived 
after him, whilst the evil was interred with his bones — so far us 
known no blot rests on his fair name. 

Si: — "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. " 

If: — "It is sweet and glorious to die for one's country. " 

2 Name. 

John Rosbrugh tasted of thai sweetness, and had the patriot's glory, 
liis unmarked grave deserves a tribute of respect from every true 
American who is in the enjoyment of the li1)erties which he died to 
Biicurc. His name and record are worthy of a place, not only in the 
archives of written history, but in the thankful remembrance of 
every lover of human liberty, along with the other Revolutionary 
patriots who died that a nation might be horn and live. 

The records of many of his compatriots have long since been 
written, hut these have been largely devoted to the perpetuation in 
memory of the courage and prowess through which these warriors 
were enabled to march to glory or death in the face of a foreign foe. 
This man's record is unique in that whilst he was a noncombatant, 
he met, we may perhaps truly say, the most cruel death of them all, 
in his efforts to subserve with them the great cause of American 

We are then to trace the life and character of the man, not so 
much in the light of the soldier, as in the light of the patriotic and 
devoted citizen and minister of the gospel who shared the lot and 
died the death of the Revolutionary soldier. "We are to make a 
record of the man's life and character as reflected by the motives 
which impelled, and the circumstances which surrounded him, in 
his career. It is to this task we now address ourself. 

Tn order thai his name may be correctly quoted and written 
by future generations, we first settle its orthography. This has 
been, in the minds of some, an unsettled question for nearly one 
hundred and twenty years. In the minutes of the Synod of New 
York and Philadelphia, between the years 1761 and 1777, it is 
Bpelled once " Roxburrow, " once " Roxborough, " and nineteen 
times " Rosborough. "' In the Reords of the College of New Jersey 
it is spelled ''Rosbrough." Mr Headley in his papers on "The 

Nativity. 3 

Clergy of the Revolution," under date of August 12th, 1875, in the 
"New York Observer, " wrote of him as "Rev. John Rossburgh. " 
Rev. D. X. Junkin, D. D. in the same paper, under date of August 
26th, attempting to correct Mr. Headley's orthography, spelled it 
" Roseborough. " In Ellis's history of Northampton county we find 
it " Rosebury. " We would state that there are still in existence 
letters written and signed by Mr. Rosbrugh, and his autograph 
may be seen also in the records of the Allen Township Presbyte- 
rian Church, of which he was the pastor at the time of his death. 
From these sources it is ascertained the correct spelling is "Ros- 
brugh." The name however, in latter years is by his descendants 
and other branches of the family, spelled "Rosebrugh," and so 

John Rosbrugh was not a native born American but belonged 
to that sturdy class known as the Scotch-Irish, who have furnished 
so large a proportion of the brains, backbone and muscle which 
have been indispensable in shaping and maintaining our nationality. 
He was of the number of those who, for conscience sake, left Scot- 
land and went to the North of Ireland, and who have made that 
part of Erin's Isle present socially, religiously and politically so 
marked a contrast with its more southerly portion. He was born 
in the year 1714, shortly before the family left Scotland, or shortly 
after they arrived in the North of Ireland, the exact date of the mi- 
gration not being now attainable. Of the family to which he be- 
longed we have no definite information further than that lie had an 
older brother, William. It seems that the same impulse which 
constrained the family to migrate from Scotland to the North of Ire- 
land, impelled this William Rosbrugh, together with his brother 
John — though the latter was young in years — to take their depart- 
ure for a land more inviting, beyond the sea, in America. 

Just when they came to America is not now definitely known. 


Collateral circumstances however, would point to the probable time 
at which they came. It was doubtless at the time those Scotch- 

. Settlements were formed in the Middle States, which figured 
so prominently in colonial history and the early history of our nation. 

Tin v settled in New Jersey, but in what particular part we are 
unable to decide. John's lirst marriage took place about the year 
L733, when he was nineteen years of age. His wife".- christian name 
was Sarah, but the Burmame has been lost. He has no descendants 
by this marriage, the wife dying at the birth of their first child, which 
also died at the same time. 

Fur the next twenty-seven or twenty-eight years we have very 
little information with regard to the family. The elder brother 
William, died, leaving two sons, Robert and John. The latter, 
after his father's death, and until he was of age, made his home 
with his brother John, for whom he was called. 

Abner A. Rosebrugk, M. D., of Toronto, Canada, is a descend- 
ant of William, the brother of the Subject of this sketch. 



What private advantages Mr. Rosbrugh had for obtaining an 
education, is now unknown. He however pursued his studies in 

A Beneficiary. 5 

the College of New Jersey, at Princeton, graduating there, as the 
records show, in 1761 in the class with David Caldwell, Lawrence 
Van Derver, David Gillespie, Isaac Handy, Thomas Henderson, 
"William Jauncy, Nathan Ker, John Lefferty, Thomas McCracken, 
David Rice, Samuel Sloan, Jacob Thompson and Jahleel Wood- 

What incentives constrained him to seek the christian minis- 
try will now perhaps never be known, but that his attention was so 
directed the sequel shows. It seems also that he was not possessed 
of sufficient pecuniary means to obtain that thorough education 
which was required of those who would enter the sacred office in 
his day. But there was a beneficiary fund in connection with the 
College of New Jersey, and to this he turned for aid. The condi- 
tions upon which aid could be obtained from this fund settled the 
question as to the beneficiary's character and qualifications. On 
the afternoon of Oct. 3d, 1755, Gilbert Tennent and Samuel Davies 
presented the following report to the Synod of New York, convened 
in the city of Philadelphia. 

" To the Reverend Synod of New York, 

"The annual interest of the following donations was appropria- 
ted by the donors, for the education of such youth for the ministry 
of the gospel, in the College of New Jersey, as are unable to defray 
the expenses of their education, who appear, upon examination, to 
be of promising genius, Calvinistic principles, and in the judge- 
ment of charity, experimentally acquainted with a work of saving- 
grace, and have a distinguished zeal for the glory of God, and sal- 
vation of men." 

Following this was a list of thirty-four names, showing a sub- 
scription amounting to £357 4s 6d, the donors being residents 
of the mother country. 

<; A Beneficiary. 

This fond was placed in the hands of the officers of the College 
. fNew Jersey, at Princeton, and the Synod by committee, from year 
to 3 ear examined beneficiaries and disbursed the interest of the fund. 

nl 758, the year in which the Synods of New York and Philadel- 
phia united, till 17G5, no regular report was made to the united Syn- 
od of the disbursements of the interest of the fund. In this year 
however, ihe committee in charge of the same made a report covering 
the win »le period. The record is as follows : 

"The committee appointed to dispose of the money in the 
hands of the treasurer of New Jersey College, appropriated for the 
education of poor and pious youth, brought in a state of their ac- 
counts since the year 1758, which is as follows: 

1758, Nov. '23. Paid by the treasurer to Mr. William 

Tranent for the use of Mr. Leslie, - £13 

For Mr. Carmichael, - - - - 14 15 1 

1759, Nov. 23. To Mr. Carmichael, - - - - 10 00 

1760, June 11. To President Davies, for use of Mr. Blair, 20 00 

1761, Aug. 3. To Mr. Rosborough, per order, - - 30 00 

1762, May 25. To do per order, - - 14 00 

1763, Aug. 26. To Mr. Robert Cooper, per order, - 20 00 
I 7-; J. July 5. To do per order, - 13 00 

"Nov. 13. To Samuel Leak, per order, - - 40 00 

£174 15 1 

Thus wc see .John Rosbrugh at Princeton College in 1761 and 
1762 — tlmu-h well on in years — classed as a poor, pious, promising 
Calvinhtic young man, giving evidence of a work of grace in the 
heart, and having a distinguished zeal for the glory of God and the 

salvation of men. 

Licensure. 7 

Having been received under the eare of Presbytery, May 22d, 
1762, as a candidate for the ministry, by Aug. 16th, 1763, he had 
so far progressed in his theological studies that the Presbytery of 
New Brunswick saw their way clear to license him to preach the 
gospel. This fact appears also in a subsequent record made with 
reference to it. On the forenoon of May 17th, 1764, there was in- 
serted in the minutes of the Synod of New York and Philadelphia, 
convened at'Elizabethtown, the following: 

" The Presbytery of New Brunswick report that since our last , 
they have ordained to the work of the ministry, the Rev. Messrs. 
Amos Thompson, Jacob Kerr and Nathan Kerr; who being present 
took their seats in the Synod; and that they licensed Messrs. David 
Caldwell, Francis Pepper and John Roxburrow, to preach the gos- 

It is probable Mr. Rosbrugh further pursued his studies after 
his licensure, and at the same time exercised his gifts as a preacher. 
By December 1764, the Presbytery was so well satisfied with his 
qualifications that they proceeded to his ordination. A reference 
to the minutes will show that this took place Dec. 11th, 1764. It 
was reported to the Synod of New York and Philadelphia, con- 
vened in Philadelphia, on the afternoon of May 15th, 1765, as fol- 

" The Presbytery of New Brunswick report that they have or- 
dained Messrs. James Lion and John Roxborough to the work of 
the ministry, and that they have licensed Simon Williams. " 

The place at which Mr. Rosbrugh was ordained was the old 

8 Old Greenwich. 

Greenwich Presbyterian church, now within the bounds of the 
Presbytery of Newton, in Warren county, New Jersey. 



In referring to the old Greenwich church, formerly known in 
the neighborhood as the Tennent or Brainerd church, we must not 
confound the building and locality with the present Greenwich 
Presbyterian church, though the latter has occupied its present site 
for more than a hundred years. The spot where Mr. Rosbrugh was 
ordained was a hall" or three-fourths of amile^to the south or south- 
i. Leaving Phillipsburg for New York by the Cen. R. R. of 
\. J. the traveler is brought by a journey of about five miles, to the 
Pohatcong creek. As he passes over the high embankment by 
which the cara are carried over the bed of the stream, if he will 
Kink to the south-east, his eye will rest upon the site of the original 
Greenwich church, which is but a few hundred yards distant. It 
Btood upon what is known as the Reily farm, now owned by 
Lion. II. R. Kennedy. If the traveler will go upon the spot, he 
will behold a scene of marvelous beauty. To the south he w T ill see 
the Musconetcong range of mountains, with the stream of the same 
name Mowing at its base. To the south-west and west he will see 

Preaching Points. 9 

a broken range of hills, stretching far away across the Delaware 
" into Pennsylvania. To the north-west and north, across the Pohat- 
cong creek, will be spread out the fertile valley of the Delaware, in 
Warren county New Jersey, and Northampton county Pennsylva- 
nia, the whole circumscribed by the Kittatinny or Blue-mountain 
range, twenty miles or more away. To the nortr-east and east will 
appear the valleys of the Pohatcong and Musconetcong creeks with 
the range of hills which separates them. Such was the scene that 
met the eye of John Rosbrugh in December 1764, when he repaired 
to the old Greenwich church to receive ordination to the christian 
ministry. Nothing remains of the log church in which he reverently 
knelt except the foundation stones, which have been built into a 
lime kiln, which may now be seen near by. 

It is probable that at the time of his ordination, Mr. Rosbrugh 
entered upon regular pastoral labors in the congregations of Green- 
wich, Oxford and Mansfield Woodhouse. Although there had been 
more or less preaching at one or other of these points by various 
clergymen as missionaries or supplies by appointment of ecclesias- 
tical courts, for perhaps twenty-five years previous, Mr. Rosbrugh 
seems to have been the first settled pastor — at least of the Presby- 
terian order — north of the Musconetcong mountains, in the bounds 
of what is now Warren county, New Jersey. These three points 
of his charge seem to have been the earliest localities in the region, 
from which the principles of the christian religion were dissemina- 
ted. By following the early records from 1739 on, it will be found 
that preaching was supplied from time to time at Mr. Green's — then 
Green's Ridge — then Greenidge — then Greenage — and finally lower 
Greenwich, which meant the place where Mr. Rosbrugh was or- 

Likewise contemporaneously, preaching was provided at "Mr. 
Barber's neighborhood, near Musconnekunk. " " Mr. Barber's. " 
was supplanted by the name "Mansfield Woodhouse," doubtless to 

10 Mansfield Woodhonse. 

c irresp md with the name of the township in which it was located, 
or to designate it as being at a particular woodhouse in Mansfield 
township. * This was some eleven or twelve miles above lower 
Greenwich, and like it, in the Musconetcong valley. The traveler 
taking the cars of the Delaware Lackawanna and "Western Railroad, 
at 1 lam pton Junction on the Central Railroad of ISTew Jersey, and 
riding toward Washington, passes through the bounds of the old 
Mansfield Woodhouse congregation. As he leaves the station he 
will sec in the valley below, surrounded by white tombstones, the 
present Musconetcong Valley Presbyterian church, which is one of 
the daughters of the original Mansfield Woodhouse church. Ashe 
sweeps around the point of the hill a half mile further on, he will 
across the valley, upon the hill side, two or three miles distant, 
the white tombstones in the graveyard where once stood the mother 
church. On arriving at Washington he will see as one of the most 
prominent buildings of the place, the present First Mansfield or 
Washington Presbyterian church, which is the other daughter. 
Repairing to the old graveyard just indicated, now lying a half 
mile south of him, he will see all that remains to call to remem- 
brance the labors of the Revolutionary pastor there. No stone, we 
believe, now chronicles the burial of parishioner or friend during 
hi.- ministry, but the western part of the burial ground is filled with 
nameless graves, by the side of some of which he doubtless stood 
and performed the last rites of christian burial for the departed. 
Standing here upon the side of the hill which separates the Musco- 
nctcong and Pohatcong valleys, a beautiful prospect is spread out 
1. sfore the eye. To the south and south-west, three or four miles 
away, is seen the irregular range of the Musconetcong mountain 

* Two other petitions from the Townships of Greenwich and Mansfield- Woodhouse, 
in the County ofSnast \, both of the Bame {purport as above; were also read, and ordered 
rod" reading. — Minutes Provincial Congress of New Jersey, Oct. 12. 1775. 

Oxford. 1 1 


beyond the stream of the same name, whilst in the intermediate 
landscape are seen fertile fields, comfortable farm-houses and invi- 
ting groves. 

Oxford, the other part of the charge, was near Belvidere, the 
county seat of Warren. In early days it was known as "Green- 
wich upon Delaware," "Upper Greenwich," "Axford's," — which 
name may still be seen in the burying ground and heard in the com- 
munity — and finally " Oxford. " It is now known as the First Ox- 
ford Presbyterian church, Presbytery of Newton. Two miles from 
Belvidere, upon a little eminence, just where a small stream flows 
out from among the northern spurs of Scott's Mountain, we find 
the site of the original Oxford church. Standing at the modern 
church amid the graves of past generations, to the south-west, west 
and north, stretch out beautiful hills and vales in upper Northamp- 
ton county, Pennsylvania, and Warren county, New Jersey. Fol- 
lowing the range of the Kittatinny mountains as they are seen pro- 
jected against the sky, the Delaware Water Gap soon comes promi- 
nently into view to the right, whilst the New Jersey foot-hills 
stretch away to the east in broken profusion. Little or nothing re- 
mains at the site of the church to call to remembrance the first 
pastor and the days of the Revolution. Thus we see Mr. Rosbrugh 
in 1764, practically in charge of all the interests of the Presbyterian 
church in that large and prosperous region now known as Warren 

12 Marriage. 



It was at Mansfield Woodhouse that Mr. Rosbrugh made his 
home. Whilst occupied with the regular duties of his charge, he 
was appointed from time to time to supply neighboring congrega- 
tions. On April 16th, 1765, Presbytery appointed him to supply 
two Sabbaths between that date and the third Tuesday in October, 
at Upper and Lower llardwick — now Yellow Frame and Hacketts- 
town, respectively — in the Presbytery of Newton, Warren county, 
New Jersey. On May 29th of the same year, he was appointed to 
supply two Sabbaths at Deep Run, near Doylstown, Pennsylvania, 
twenty-live or thirty miles distant. On October 16th, 1765, he was 
kin appointed to supply two Sabbath at Upper and Lower Hard- 
wick — twenty to thirty miles distant. On April 16th, 1766, he was 
appointed to supply one Sabbath at Upper llardwick and one at 
Bedminster — in Somerset county, twenty-five to thirty miles distant. 
Having entered upon the full work of the ministry, he felt that 
he ought to take to himself again a wife. Belonging to the class 
known a> the Scotch-Irish, it was most natural for him to seek a 
helpmeet from among those who were of similar origin. Some 
twenty miles away, in Allen township, in "Porks of Delaware," 
now Northampton county, Pennsylvania, had been for nearly forty 
years, a settlement of the Scotch-Irish. To the Irish, or Craig Set- 
tlement as it was called, therefore, he looked for a wife. It was not 
long till he had found and won the object of his desire. He be- 
came intimate with the family of .fames Rakton, an elder in the 

James Rosbrugh Born. 13 

Irish Settlement, or Allen Township Presbyterian church. The 
family was composed of the following members, we believe, viz: 
Samuel, John, Mary, Jane and Letitia. As living descendants of 
this family, among others, we might mention Rev. J. Grier Ralston, 
D. D., of Norristown and the Ralston families of the old Brandy- 
wine Manor Presbyterian congregation, Chester county, Penn'a. 
The wife of the venerable Rev. J. N. C. Grier, D. D., for forty years 
pastor at Brandywine Manor, was also a descendant. Mr. Rosbrugh 
married the daughter Jane of this family, and took her to their 
home in the bounds of the congregation at Mansfield Woodhouse. 
The time at which the marriage took place we have not been able 
to learn, but conjecture it was in the early part of 1766. He was 
absent from the meeting of Synod, which convened in New York, 
May 21st, of that year. We conjecture he silently rendered his ex- 
cuse, whilst absent, in the words of Nehemiah (6:3) "I am doing a 
great work, so that I cannot come down. " — I am getting married. 
In Philadelphia, May 20th, 1767, he gave to Synod his reasons for 
the previous year's absence, and for aught we know, gave them as 
here indicated. On the 24th of April, 1767, there was born to him 
a son, whom he called James, doubtless for his wife's father, James 
Ralston. Between the time of his marriage and the birth of his son, 
we find him engaged in numerous labors beyond the bounds of his 
own charge. On October 21st, 1766, he was appointed to supply 
at Upper and Lower Hard vick the first Sabbath of December, 1766, 
and first Sabbath in January and February, 1767. April 21st 1767, 
he was appointed to supply two Sabbaths in May, at Lower Hard- 
wick, fourth Sabbath in July at Upper Hardwick, and fourth Sab- 
bath in September at Bedrninster. These labors in May, outside of 
his own charge, together with the journey to and attendance upon 
the meeting of Synod in Philadelphia the same month, show the 
arduousness of the service he rendered. 

"We find Mr. Rosbrugh was a man careful to obey the behests 

14 Ecclesiastical Fidelity. 

of the ecclesiastical courts which had jurisdiction over him. The 
Synod of New York and Philadelphia had taken steps to secure a 
fund for the propagation of the gospel among the poor. They had 
enjoined upon the members to make collections for the purpose. 
On the afternoon of May 22d, 1767 — the Synod then being in sess- 
ion in Philadelphia — the members were called upon to render an 
account of their faithfulness in the matter. "When the list had been 
completed, the following minute was made, viz: 

"The Synod are obliged to declare that it is a matter of real 
grief to them to find that so many of their members have paid so 
little regard to the authority of Synod, enjoining a liberality for so 
pious and important a purpose. '' 

Mr. Rosbrugh however, escaped this censure, for among the 
reports from the Presbyteries, the following came from the Presby- 
tery of New Brunswick, to which he belonged, viz: 

" Of New Brunswick Presbytery. 

Mr. Keed, - - £1 10 

Mr. Banna, - - 1 

Mr. Kirkpatrick, 2 17 1 

Mr. Rosborough, 1 

£6 7 1 Pro. cur." 

Thus he appears as one of four, in his Presbytery, who were 
faithful under the injunction laid upon them. 

On the 28th of May he obtained leave of absence for himself 
and elder, John Maxwell, from further attendance upon the sessions 
of the Synod at that meeting, and started upon his journey home- 
ward. Having returned to his duties at home, he doubtless in con- 
nection therewith, performed the extra service in July andSeptem- 

Discouragements. 15 

ber, to which he had been appointed by Presbytery in the spring. 
We find that at the fall meeting of Presbytery, on October 20th, 

1767, he was appointed to preach one Sabbath at Upper Hardwiek 
and one at Smithfield — the latter being now within the bounds of 
Lehigh Presbytery, in Monroe county, Pennsylvania, beyond the 
Kittatinny range of mountains, twenty or thirty miles distant. We 
present these details of labor that an adequate idea may be formed 
of the arduous and patient services rendered by the subject of this 
sketch. Mansfield Woodhouse and Oxford were each ten or twelve 
miles from Greenwich, and five or six from each other. Remem- 
bering this, and also that in addition to the labor of serving thesu 
congregations under such circumstances, he traveled far and preached 
much in the regions beyond, we have some forecast of the indomi- 
table courage, perseverance and devotion to duty which manifested 
itself in severer trials in after years. In all this work there was 
doubtless little encouragement, at least in a worldly point of view. 
The discouraging phase of his experience is reflected in a represen- 
tation which he made of his charge to Presbytery on April 19th, 

1768. The record is as follows : 

"Mr. Rosborough represented to the Presbytery, that Mans- 
field Woodhouse, one branch of his present charge, through the re- 
moval of sundry of his members out of the congregation, and by 
other means were now become so few and weak as not to be able to 
contribute their quota towards his support, and that sundry of them 
had consented to his leaving them. And that seeing the other 
branches of his charge were not able to make up the deficiency of 
that now mentioned; and as his circumstances are straightened and 
necessitous, these things laid him under the disagreeable necessity 
of asking to be wholly dismissed from his present charge. " 

The consideration of this matter was laid over till the next day. 
Ct then came up and the following record was made with regard to it. 

16 Discouragements. 

" M P. Roshrugh's request for a removal from his present charge, 
came under consideration, and the Presbytery after hearing and 
considering the reasons for said motion, do judge that the matter is 
not yet ripe for proceeding to his removal, as it does not appear to 
ii- that .Mansfield Woodhouse, the branch of the congregation which 
it seems is most deficient in supporting Mr. Rosbrugh, have been 
formally notified of Mr. Roshrugh's design at this time to sue for a 
dismission from them; neither is there any representative here to 
answer for them; neither is there any one here to represent Oxford 
congregation, which is another branch of his charge; and as the re- 
moval of a minister is a weighty matter, and not to be rashly done, 
we would proceed with all possible tenderness and caution in it. 
We therefore think proper to defer the matter till the fall Presby- 
tery, and in the mean time order that Mr. Rosborough give due 
notice to the people of .Mansfield Woodhouse that unless they dis- 
charge their arrears and pay their quota as usual, his labors shall 
be taken from them; and should they decline to bear their part as 
before, then Mr. Rosborough is to preach one half of his time till 
next Presbytery, at Greenwich, and a third part at Oxford, and the 
remainder at discretion. " 

Such was the status of his affairs in April, 1768. At the same 
meeting of Presbytery when the above action was taken, he was 
appointed to supply one Sabbath at Smithfield and one at Allen- 
town, in the Erish Settlement, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, 
and preach as often as lie could at Upper and Lower Hardwick, be- 
tween that time and the spring meeting of Presbytery. At the fall 
meeting of Presbytery, October 18th, 1768, the report was brought 
in that Mansfield Woodhouse had failed to make up their quota of 
Mr. Roshrugh's salary, and that he had accordingly preached one- 
half of hi* time at Greenwich, and one-third at Oxford. The Pres- 
bytery adjourned to meet at Oxford on the third Wednesday of 

Letitia Rosbrugh Born. 17 

November to further consider the case. At this meeting it seems 
some arrangement was made and certain conditions specified upon 
which Mr. Rosbrugh was to remain in charge of Greenwich and 
Oxford. At the spring meeting of Presbytery however, April 18th, 
1769, it was reported that Oxford and Greenwich had failed to com- 
ply with the conditions upon which he was to remain with them, 
and he was accordingly dismissed from all parts of his charge. 



The foregoing circumstances would seem to indicate that the 
immediate future was dark and uninviting to the churchless pastor. 
But such was not the case. Within a week previous to the meeting 
of Presbytery at which he was released from his pastoral charge, 
his heart was cheered by the birth of a daughter. This happy event 
occurred April 12th. He called his daughter Letitia, doubtless af- 
ter the mother's sister, Letitia Ralston. With the little boy James, 
two years old, and the babe, we may suppose he spent many happy 
hours. But another circumstance added much to the dispelling of 
any misgivings which he may have had for the future. At the same 
meeting of Presbytery when he was released from his pastoral 
charge, a call was presented to him to take charge of the Allen 

18 Call to Allen Township. 

Township Presbyterian Church, in connection with Greenwich. 
Thus lie was to be provided with a home in the Irish Settlement, 
Northampton county, Pennsylvania, among the Scotch-Irish, the 
stock from which he himself had sprung, as well as his wife. He 
was now called to the congregation in which his father-in-law, 
James Ralston, was an elder, and his wife's family were members. 
This matter had been well forwarded before the meeting of Presby- 
tery which convened to dissolve the pastoral relation at Oxford and 
Greenwich. March 29th, 17(59, the Allen Township people asked 
permission of the First Philadelphia Presbytery — to which they be- 
longed — to present a call to Mr. Rosbrugh of the New Brunswick 
Presbytery; showing that they had decided at that time, to call him. 
They were advised to secure, in connection with Mt. Bethel, as 
much of his time as they could. Mr. Rosbrugh had expressed his 
willingness to accept their call, as early as April 3d., and the follow- 
ing record was made in their church-book, viz.: 

" The Rev. John Rosbrugh accepted the call to Allentown con- 
gregation, the 3d. day of April, 1769; that is to allow the congrega- 
tion two-thirds of his time for * * * pounds per annum. " 

The contemplated arrangement then doubtless was to give to 
Greenwich one-third, and Allen Township two-thirds of the minis- 
ter's time. With this arrangement in view, the matter was brought 
before the Presbytery of New r Brunswick, where it was duly con- 
sidered, April 18th, 1769, and it was decided to make such arrange- 
ment, provided the Allen Township Church was "regularly set off 
to the Presbytery of Xew Brunswick, " it having been under the 
care of the Presbytery of Abington from 1751 to 1758, and from 
that time on, under the First, or old Presbytery of Philadelphia. 
In pursuance of the stipulation of the Presbytery of New Brunswick, 
the Allen Township people petitioned the Synod of New York and 

Negotiations for Transfer to Allen Township Church. 19 

Philadelphia, convened in Philadelphia, to set them oil' to New 
Brunswick Presbytery. The petition came up for consideration on 
the afternoon of May 23d., 1769, and the following action was ta- 
ken, viz. : 

"A petition from the congregation of Allentown, in the Forks 
of Delaware, to be taken from under the care of the First Presby- 
tery of Philadelphia, and to be put under the care of the Presbytery 
of New Brunswick, was brought in and read. After the committee 
on behalf of the congregation and both Presbyteries concerned were 
heard, it appeared not expedient for the present to grant the prayer 
of the petition. But the Synod order the First Presbytery of Phil- 
adelphia to inquire more particularly into the state and connection 
of that congregation, and empower said Presbytery to set them off 
to the Presbytery of New Brunswick if it should appear expedient: 
or if it should appear more expedient to set off the congregation of 
Greenwich to the First Presbytery of Philadelphia, the Presbytery 
of New Brunswick are empowered to set them off. " 

Notwithstanding this delay, Mr. Rosbrugh doubtless devoted 
his time thereafter almost exclusively to Allen Township and Green- 
wich. This is confirmed by a record made October 19th, 1769, by 
the Presbytery of New Brunswick, which is as follows: 

" That Mr. Rosbrugh be a constant supply to the people at 
Greenwich and Allentown, except 3d. Sabbath to Mt. Bethel, till 
our next. " 

At the spring meeting of his Presbytery, on April 17th, 177<>, 
he was appointed to supply one Sabbath at Mt. Bethel, one at Ox- 
ford, one at Baskingridge, at Lower Hardwick one, and administer 
the Lord's Supper, in addition to his regular labors at Allentown- 
nhip and Greenwich. In accordance with the action of the Synod 

2<> Allen Township Church Transferred. 

in 1769, the matter of the transfer of the Allen Township Church 
to the Presbytery of New Brunswick, came up on the afternoon of 
May 21st, 1770, in the Synod of New York and Philadelphia, con- 
vened in New York, when the following action was taken: 

" The First Presbytery of Philadelphia reported, that in com- 
pliance with an order of Synod last year, they had, in conjunction 
with the Presbytery of New Brunswick, inquired particularly into 
the state and connections of the congregation of Allentown, in the 
Forks of Delaware, and it is the unanimous opinion of both Presby- 
teries that it is at present most subservient to the interests of relig- 
ion in those parts, for the Presbytery of New Brunswick to take 
under their care, not only the congregation of Allentown, but also 
the congregation of Mt. Bethel, both which are in the Forks of 
Delaware, and both which have been under the care of the First 
Philadelphia Presbytery. The Synod therefore order the Presby- 
tery of New Brunswick to take both the said congregations under 
their care for the future." 

The conditions upon which Mr. Rosbrugh was to be allowed 
to accept the call to Allen Township and Greenwich, were thus 
met. Notwithstanding this, he did not at that time express to 
Presbytery his acceptance of the call. This may have been owing 
to troubles which arose about this time in the Mt. Bethel church, 
which was doubtless to constitute a part of his charge. In October, 
1771, he was appointed to supply this latter place on the fourth 
Sabbath of that month and administer the sacrament of the Lord's 
Supper, and preach three more Sabbaths at his discretion. At the 
spring meeting of Presbytery, April 15th, 1772, he expressed his 
acceptance of the call to the Allen Township church, but for some 
reason no preparations were then made for his installation. If we 
mistake not, Greenwich was not included in the call as accepted by 

Installation. 21 

Mr. Rosbrugh in 1772. On October 13th, 1772, the Allen Town- 
ship people renewed their request for his installation, which was 
" cheerfully complied with." It took place October 28th, 1772, at 
1.2 o'clock. Rev. John Guild presided and preached the sermon. 
The other members of the committee of installation were Rev. John 
Manna, Rev. Jacob Van Arsdalen and Rev. Samuel Kennedy.* 



At what particular time Mr. Rosbrugh removed his family to 
the bounds of the Allen Township congregation in Pennsylvania, is 
now not known, but it was most likely shortly after the dissolution 
of the pastoral relation between himself and the churches to which 
he ministered in New Jersey. It is not probable that he remained 
long in the bounds of the Mansfield Woodhouse congregation after 
the unhappy state of affairs which we see existed there in the latter 
part of 1768. The most natural place to which we would expect 
him to remove as soon as he conveniently could, would be the 
Allen Township congregation, where his wife's people lived. There 
we may suppose he took up his abode therefore, in 1769 or 1770. 
After his removal there were born to him two daughters, one of 
whom he called Mary, doubtless after his wife's sister, Mary Ralston, 

22 Field of Labor in Pennsylvania. 

who had died, a blooming girl of sixteen, November 20th, 1748, and 
whose body lies in the Allen Township burying-ground. The other 
he called Sarah, perhaps in memory of the deceased wife of his 
youth. Another son was born to him here also, whom he called 
John, doubtless after his wife's brother, John Ralston. 

If the traveler will go to a little hamlet near Weaversville, in 
Northampton county, Pennsylvania, he will be surrounded by the 
scenery amid which Mr. Rosbrugh spent the closing years of his 
life. The purling brook still flovs by. The old mill-site is still 
there. The rocky ascent of the highway up which he marched 
with his parishioners when starting to the seat of war, is still there. 
The old Allen Township stone church, erected in 1812 and '13, — 
now hidden by a wooden encasement — is there, within a hundred 
yards or so of the site of the building in which Mr. Rosbrugh 
preached. Just up the stream a few steps, is the old burying-ground 
where lie the remains of his wife, by the side of Barbara Hays, 
Mary Craig, Thomas Herron, .Mary Ann Walker, Mary Lykens, 
Hugh "Wilson, Mary Ralston, — his own mother-in-law — Jane Clen- 
dinen and Mary Hays, together with others whom he laid in the 
grave during his ministry there. Leaving the church and going 
eastward, the traveler finds himself upon the elevated highway 
alone: which Mr. Rosbrugh traveled week after week as he toiled in 
the work of the Master. Away to the south-east, south and south- 
west may be seen the Lehigh mountains, with the river of the same 
name flowing at their northern base. Here and there as the eye 
wanders over the landscape, may be seen ascending at Catasauqua, 
Allentown, Bethlehem and other places, the smoke of the iron fur- 
naces of the Lehigh Valley. To the east and west stretch out the 
fertile and beautiful hills and vales of Northampton and Lehigh 
counties; whilst away to the north, against the sky, may be seen 
the symmetrical range of the Kittatinny or Blue mountains. Hav- 
ing gone a mile perhaps, a sharp descent in the road brings the 

Mirthf illness. 28 

traveler to Reuben Beavers. This was the home of Rev. John Ros- 
brugh in 1776, and the home of his sorrowing family after his death. 
Just below it was the old Ralston estate, and blockhouse or fort for 
(he defence of the settlers prior to and during the French and In- 
dian war. Such were the surroundings of Mr. Rosbrugh after he 
removed from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. 

From his installation in 1772 onward for several years, he 
seems to have been quietly occupied with his ministerial labors. 
He attended the meeting of Synod in Philadelphia in May, 1774. 
He attended the meeting of his Presbytery at Bound Brook, April 
23d, 1776, and was chosen Moderator. He also attended the meet- 
ing of Synod in Philadelphia in May of the same year. On Octo- 
ber 9th, 1776, Presbytery appointed him to supply two Sabbaths 
at Mt. Bethel, and one at Greenwich. This however, was the last 
opportunity his Presbytery had of assigning him to duty. 

Before proceeding however to the darkest and sadest part of 
his career, let us take a glimpse at the bright and cheerful charac- 
teristics of his nature. Mr. Rosbrugh was fond of mirthfulness, 
and was accustomed to entertain his friends with such anecdotes as 
the following : 

At the first meeting of Synod in Philadelphia, two young 
clergymen attended on horseback from Virginia. On the way, 
arriving at a village, near night, they inquired for a Presbyterian, 
hoping to find lodging for the night. They were directed to the 
principal man of the place, the owner of a mill at which many were 
employed. He gladly received them — showed them great attention 
— had their horses taken care of and supper prepared for themselves. 
After a long evenings talk, instead of asking the young ministers to 
lead in devotions, he thought it would be a good thing to show 
them how well he could do it himself. His method was patriarchal. 
He first read a chapter in the Bible, which he explained to the fam- 

24 Anecdotes. 

ily, then a version of the Psalms — lining it in singing — before pray- 
er. This night the chapter in course was the fourth of Numbers, 
the fifth and sixth verses of which are as follows : 

" And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come and 
his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the 
ark of testimony with it : and shall put thereon the covering of 
badger skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly blue, and shall 
put in the staves thereof. " 

"Badger skins" he read beggar skins. When he had finished 
reading, he turned to the family and said: There is nothing of par- 
ticular importance in this chapter, it merely goes to show the bless- 
edness of the gospel dispensation, for now each man can enjoy his 
religion under his own vine and fig tree, but then, just as soon as a 
man became too poor to pay his tithes, off went his skin to be used 
in covering the articles in the tabernacle. 


Mr. Rosbrugh, in making his pastoral visits, once came to a 
widow living alone. He found her at her devotions and did not 
disturb her until she was through. She read the Scripture, then 
lined a Psalm as she sang it, before prayer. He asked her why she 
lined the Psalm, as there were none to hear her when she was alone. 
"Ah!" said she, "it is sa quiet I fain would 'dight my gab twice 

Patriotism, 26 . 



These were Revolutionary times, and Mr. Rosbrugh was filled 
with the spirit of freedom. It was the heavy yoke, politically and 
religiously, which the Mother Country had imposed upon her peo- 
ple, that drove him and many of his class from the heather, hill and 
dale of Scotland, to their new homes in America. That the same 
yoke should be imposed upon them in their new home, seemed to 
him like the pursuit and oppression of the innocent and suffering 
by a natural enemy. Aside from this general incentive which fired 
his zeal, there were special reasons why he should be intensely in- 
terested in his country's welfare. The Synod of New York and 
Philadelphia, to which he belonged, at its meeting in New York 
on May 20th, 1775, had sent out by pastoral letter, burning words 
of christian advice and patriotism to all her ministers and congre- 
gations, in view of the disheartening aspect of political affairs. 
Beside urging recognition of God in all the trials of the hour, and 
to duly repent of transgressions; to respect their allegiance to the 
British crown so far as might be consistent with the securing of 
their just rights, politically and religiously; to abstain from lawless- 
ness and excesses in social life, they said: 

"Suffer us then to la} 7 hold of your present temper of mind, 
and to exhort especially the young and vigorous, by assuring them 
that there is no soldier so undaunted as the pious man ; no army so 
Formidable as those who are superior to the fear of death. There 

26 Synodlcal Urging and Admonition. 

is nothing more awful to think of, than that those whose trade is 
war, should he despisers of the name of the Lord of hosts, and that 
they should expose themselves to the imminent danger of being im- 
mediately sent from cursing and cruelty on earth, to the blasphe- 
ming rage and despairing horror of the infernal pit. Let therefore, 
every one, who from generosity of spirit, or benevolence of heart, 
offer himself as a champion in his country's cause, be persuaded to 
reverence the name, and walk in the fear of the Prince of the kings 
of the earth, and then he may, with the most unshaken firmness, 
expect the issue either in victory or death. "' 

*'Be careful to maintain the union which at present subsists 
through all the colonies. Nothing can be more manifest than that 
the success of every measure depends on its being inviolably pre- 
served, and therefore, we hope that you will leave nothing undone 
which can promote that end. In particular, as the Continental 
Congress, now sitting at Philadelphia, consists of delegates chosen 
in the most free and unbiased manner, by the body of the people, 
let them not only be treated with respect, and encouraged in their 
difficult service, not only let your prayers be offered up to God for 
his direction in their proceedings, but adhere firmly to their resolu- 
tions, and let it be seen that they are able to bring out the whole 
strength of this vast country to carry them into effect." 

Thus Mr. Rosbruich would feel that he was under moral obli- 
gat i dii, with all Presbyterians, to lend his aid to repel what seemed 
to him an unjust demand on the part of the Mother Country. 
These feelings which doubtless possessed his soul in 1775, were in- 
tensified when some from his own congregation and family connec- 
tions entered actively into the task of repelling the enemy, both in 
the halls of legislation, and land and naval forces of the country. 
If we look into the old burying-ground in the Irish Settlement, 
Northampton county, Pennsylvania, we will find this inscription : 

Friends and Neighbors Miter Army. 2? 

"Dr. Matthew McHenry died December thirteenth, seventeen 
hundred and eighty-three, in the fortieth year of his age. " 

If we look into the minutes of the Council of Safety of Penn- 
sylvania, for April 13th, 1776, we there read: 

"Resolved, That Doctor Matthew McHenry be, and he is hereby 
appointed Surgeon to the Provincial Ship Montgomery. " 

His father was Rev. Francis McHenry, and his mother Mary Wil- 
son, daughter Hugh Wilson, one of the oldest, most respected and 
influential citizens of the Irish Settlement. In the minutes of the 
same body, for September 24th, 1776, we read: "An order was 
drawn on Robert Trowers, in favor of Messrs Jacob Strowd, Neigal 
Gray, Abram Miller, Simon Dreisbach, John Ralston, Jacob Arndt 
and Peter Brinkhalter, members of Convention for Northampton 
county, 300ft> powder, and 60<>ft> lead for the use of said county." 
Thus we see Neigal Gray and John Ralston, who were members of 
Mr. Rosbrugh's congregation, and the latter his brother-in-law, 
actively engaged with the military affairs of the country. Further, 
with others, we find the following Irish Settlement names as con- 
nected with the Revolutionary service, viz. : Major George Nagle, 
Lieutenant Robert Gregg, Ensign William Craig, John Craig, 
John Boyd, Andrew Boyd, William Young, William Weals, 
Henry Epple, General Thomas Craig and Robert Brown, afterwards 
known as General Brown, and who was a Representative in Con- 
gress from Northampton county, Pennsylvania, for nearly twenty 
years after the Revolution. Captain Benjamin Wallace, who mar- 
ried Letitia Ralston, Mr. Rosbrugh's sister-in-law, also entered the 
conflict on the field of battle. John Ralston — brother-in-law also 
as w r e have seen — became a member of the Constitutional Conven- 
tion which framed the first constitution of the Commonwealth of 
Pennsylvania, in 1776, by which the people were to have no longer 

28 Siege of Fort Washington. 

agovernment of a Colonial character, but that of a free and sover- 
eign State. He was a member of the Continental Congress and 
also, we believe, a member of the committee or convention which 
framed the Articles of Confederation. Thus Mr. Rosbrugh became 
more closely identified with the Revolutionary cause from consider- 
ations alike of an ecclesiastical, social and political character. As 
the conflict progressed, circumstances more and more conspired to 
arouse his patriotism. General Brown, and his brother-in-law Cap- 
tain Wallace, with others, were sent to the front, and shared the 
the misfortunes of the war previous to the siege of Fort "Washing- 
ton. They were of the number of those put into that ill-fated 
stronghold by General AVashington, with orders to defend it at all 
hazards — it was the forlorn hope. The enemy marshaled their for- 
ces and laid siege to the place. It was superiority of numbers and 
munitions of war, against courage and devotion to ajust cause. On 
the 15th of November, 1776, Lord Howe, Commander-in-Chief of 
the British forces, made a demand for the surrender of the fort, un- 
der penalty of putting all to the sword if the demand was not acce- 
ded to. An attack commenced on the morning of November 16th, 
and continued till three o'clock, P. M., when a second summons 
was sent by Lord Howe for the surrender, the stipulations being 
that the garrison were to be held prisoners of war, giving up their 
arms, ammunition and stores, and that two field officers were to be 
sent to the British head-quarters as hostages. As further successful 
resistance was deemed hopeless, the troops surrendered, and Colonel 
Robert McGaw, of the Fifth Pennsylvania battal ion — to which be- 
longed the companies containing many of Mr. Rosbrugh's neighbors 
— and who was in command of Fort Washington, General Brown, 
(then First Lieutenant in Captain Rundio's company,) and Captain 
Wallace, with the others, fell into the hands of the enemy. The 
following was the form in which the summons and capitulation were 

Washington's Retreat. 29 

"The Commander-in-Chief demands an immediate and catagor- 
ical answer to his second summons of Fort Washington. The garri- 
son must immediately surrender prisoners of war, and give up their 
,-irms, ammunition and stores of every kind, and send two Field- 
Officers to these quarters as hostages. In so doing, the General is 
pleased to allow the garrison to keep possesion of their baggage, 
*nd the officers to have their swords. 

Agreed to : 

J. Patterson, Adjutant General. 

Robert McGaw, Colonel of the Fifth Pennsyl- 
vania Battal ion, Commanding 
at Fort Washington. " * 

The following is General Brown's parole, given in his captiv- 
ity, a year later: 

"We whose names are hereunder written, do pledge our faith 
and honor to General Clinton, that we will not depart from ye 
house we are placed in by the Commissary of Prisoners; nor go be- 
yond the bounds prescribed by him; and further that we will not 
do or say anything contrary to the interests of his Majesty or his 

Robert Brown 

Onboard of ye Ship Judith, December 10th, 1777." f 

The effect of the disaster at Fort Washington upon the 
minds of Mr. Rosbrugh and his people may well be imagined. 
]tfow followed that hasty and disheartening retreat by the Continen- 
tal army across New Jersey, with which the historian is familiar. 

* Genealogies, Necrology and Reminiscences of the Irish Settlement, p. 258 — By 
ihe Author of this Paper, 
t Ibid p. 259. 

30 Excitement in Pennsylvania. 

No place of safety was found until they had crossed the Delaware 
and placed this turbid and ice-clogged barrier between themselves 
and the pursuing foe. With the fall of Fort Washington it was 
felt something must be done and done speedily to prevent the ene- 
my from marching on and capturing Philadelphia, where the Con- 
tinental Congress had been sitting. If we now transfer ourselves 
to the chamber in Philadelphia where the Council of Safety of 
Pennsylvania were wont to meet, and imbibe the political atmos- 
phere which they breathed, we will be better fitted to appreciate the 
circumstances and feelings through which Mr. Rosbrugh was 
brought to his tragic end. The Flying Camp had been formed, 
equipped and forwarded during the summer of 1776. The Irish 
Settlement had furnished her quota therefor. The air was full of 
alarms from time to time. By November 7th, an express rider had 
been sent out "to Northampton and Bucks counties, to request the 
Commanding Officers of the militia to hold themselves in readiness 
to march to this city at an hour's warning." Bv November 11th, 
"In consequence of intelligence received that part of General How's 
army was making amove this way, the Council to get things in for- 
wardness to make a defence, came to the following rsolutions, viz. : 
1. That twelve expresses with horses be provided, to be in readiuess 
to send. 2. That Col. Gurney and Mr. Ivuhl be appointed to ex- 
amine the state of military stores and arms in the State House and 
lock factory, and report to the board the state in which they shall 
find them. 3. That Col. S. Matlack be appointed to write a letter 
containing the intelligence received, to the Commanding Officers 
of the militia. 4. That Commodore Sey more, Col. Hampton, Capt. 
Blewer and Capt. ITazlewood, do review the whole naval armament 
and the artillery companies belonging to this State, to-morrow, and 
make report to this board, of the state in which they shall find them. 
5. Resolved, That Col. Bayard be appointed to draw up a letter to 
>1. Kirkbridge, to view the fords of the river Delaware above the' 

Increased Excitement. 31 

falls. 6. That Mr. Biddle be appointed to write to the Delaware 
State, and lower parts of New Jersey, and acquaint them with the 
intelligence received. 7. That Mr. C. S. Morris be appointed to 
write to Mr. Parr, Mr. Tilghman and Mr. Lukens, and order them 
to remove the public papers in their hands. 8. That Mr. Robert 
Crwine be sent for and directed to engage a numher of wagons, in 
order to remove the military stores from this city to the country. 
9. That Col. Mifflin be sent for and requested to assist in directing 
the mounting all the small guns that can be procured, on carriages, 
in and near the city, that are fit for that purpose. 10. Mr. Towers 
be directed to provide a larger quantity of musket cartridges than 
is now on hand, and employ as many people in making them as can 
be procured. 11. That the boom be fixed to the piers near Fort 
Island, without delay." November 13th finds the organized mili- 
tia notified "to march to New Jersey." On the 14th "intelligence 
was received by express that several hundred transports had sailed 
from New York, and steered their course to the southward, and ex- 
pected to be intended for this city; whereupon the Council wrote a 
circular letter to the Commanding Officers of the battalions of mi- 
litia, earnestly requesting them to march their respective battalions 
to this city immediately. " "The Board of war was requested to 
send for Captain Strohbogh and the company of artillery under his 
command, lately sent to Fort Montgomery, in New York Govern- 
ment. " "Resolved, That Col. Bayard be requested to get ready im- 
mediately as many of his battalion as are necessary to guard the 
State prisioners to Lancaster and Reading. The Commodore was 
not to suffer any sea vessel to pass through the Chevaux-de-Frise. 
Ordered that Commodore Seymore do immediately station one of 
the armed boats belonging to this State, at or near Gloucester point, 
and. exert their utmost vigilance in preventing all shallops from 
passing down the river. " But matters became more critical. The 
last stronghold, Fort Washington, is taken, as we have seen, on the 

32 Heroic Preparations. 

16th of November. By the 18th, the Chester and Berks county 
militia are ordered to Philadelphia. The 20th finds the Bucks 
county militia also ordered to the city. The troops from Lancaster 
and York counties receive their marching orders by the 22d. Now 
the sphere of action widens. It is no longer the authorities of 
Pennsylvania alone who are moving for the defence of their soil, 
but the Continental Congress takes up the matter and cooperates 
with them. On November 23d, Congress takes action looking to 
the calling out of all the militia of the country in defence of the 
city where they had been sitting. Accordingly on the 25th of No- 
vember we find renewed efforts on the part of the Council of Safety. 
They say " In consequence of a meeting with as many of the Field 
Officers of the battalions of the city of Philadelphia as could be 
convened, it was, upon consideration, agreed on to present a memo- 
rial to the General Assembly on the resolves of Congress with re- 
spect to calling out the militia, and on the present state of the mil- 
itary Association ; and a committee of this board was ordered to 
prepare a draft of such memorial, to be delivered to the House to- 
morrow morning. " The memorial was presented to the Assembly 
on the 26th, and the arrangement made seems to have been to 
bring pressure to bear upon the people's patriotism in the great 
peril of the moment, and thus obtain volunteers indiscriminately 
from the militia, for the reinforcement of the Continental Army. 
As an inducement to volunteer, one month's pay in advance was 
offered. We read November 27th, " Agreeable to the Resolution 
of Congress of 23d instant, respecting the calling out of part of the 
militia of this State, an order was sent down from Congress on Mi- 
chael Hillegas, Esq'r., Treasurer to the Continent, dated the 25th 
inst., for thirty-five thousand dollars, for advancing a month's pay 
to each man who shall enroll himself to serve till the 10th March 
next, unless sooner discharged. " To further urge and encourage 
the matter, the families of volunteers are provided for, as seen by 

Families Provided For. 33 

the following action taken November 29th. " Resolved, That this 
Council will provide generously, and in the least exceptional man- 
ner they can devise, for the families of the Associators, who shall 
march into New Jersey to join General Washington, exclusive of 
their pay, out of such moneys as they have at their disposal, unless 
the House of Assembly shall, before that time, make the interposi- 
tion of the board unnecessary. " The following further action is 
taken November 30th. "Resolved, That money be sent immedi- 
ately to the Colonels of the militia of Chester, Philadelphia, 
Bucks and Northampton counties, and city of Philadelphia, to 
supply the families of such Associators as go into actual service 
and may stand in need of the same; and that each battal'.ion 
do choose two subalterns, substantial freeholders, who are to re- 
ceive from the Colonels of their respective battaLions the said 
money and distribute it amongst the said families, from time to 
time, according to their need, in the most discreet manner, for 
which money they are to account with this board. " The same day 
"William Parr is directed to remove all the records and public pa- 
pers in his possession to Lancaster immediately." " Capt. New- 
man is permitted to take one or two of the field pieces in the State 
House yard, and proceed with them and his men to the assistance 
of General Washington. " On December 1st " Resolved, That Mr. 
William Richards and Mr. Matthew Clarkson be appointed to pro- 
vide every necessary for accommodating the militia on their passage 
from here to Trenton ; to have oars fixed to each shallop, and pro- 
portion the number of men each can carry. " "Dispatched express- 
es to Chester, Philadelphia, Bucks and Northampton counties, to 
hasten the march of militia to reinforce General Washington in 
New Jersey." "Resolved, That Major Proctor do send fifty of his 
privates with proper officers, under the command of Captain Thom- 
as Forrest, to General Washington without delay; that they are to 
take with them two brass field pieces belonging to this State, and 
Major Proctor is to lay before this board an estimate of stores, wag- 

34 Schools and Places of Business Closed. 

ons and camp equipage necessary for that service, that they maybe 
supplied without delay." December 2d., "Resolved, That it is the 
opinion of this board, that all the shops in this city be shut up; that 
the schools be broken up, and the inhabitants engaged solely in 
providing for the defence of this city at this time of extreme danger. " 
December 3d. " Ordered, That the ferry-men of this city and Lib- 
erties, do immediately take over to Cooper's ferries all their boats, 
and the two large flat bottom boats belonging to this State, now at 
Kensington, under the care of Captain Benjamin Eyre, to transport 
the Maryland Flying Camp across the Delaware to this city. Re- 
solved, That the members in General Assembly for the counties of 
Philadelphia, Chester, Bucks and Lancaster, be applied to immedi- 
ately, to recommend proper persons in their respective counties to 
he employed by this board to hire all the wagons in their counties. 
Resolved, That this board will furnish any persons who may form 
themselves into a Troop of Horse, with a brace of pistols and broad- 
sword; and it is recommended to the persons so forming a troop, 
immediately to choose their officers and prepare to march to join 
General Washington with all expedition in their power." Decem- 
ber 4th, "Resolved, That Jacob Hinman and John Clevv be permit- 
ted to continue at the old ferry, it being expected that troops from 
New Jersey will pass over to this city, and they may be wanted." 
The 5th tinds expresses sent out " to call the militia, and hasten 
their march to join General Washington." The 7th brings heroic 
words of admonition. " Whereas, The safety and security of every 
state depends on the virtuous exertions of individuals in its defence, 
and as such exertions can never be more reasonable and necessary 
than when a people are wantonly invaded by a powerful army, for 
the avowed purpose of enslaving them, which is at present the un- 
happy situation of our neighboring states, and which may hourly 
he expected in this, therefore, Resolved, That no excuse ought to be 
admitted or deemed sufficient against marching of the militia at this 

General Howe Arrives at Princeton. 35 


time, except sickness, infirmity of body, age, religious scruples or 
an absolute order from authority of this State. .Resolved, That it is 
the opinion of this board that every person who is so void of honor, 
virtue and love of his country, as to refuse his assistance at this time 
of imminent public danger, may justly be suspected of designs in- 
imical to the freedom of America; and where such designs are very 
apparent from the conduct of particular persons, such persons ought 
to be confined during the absence of the militia, and the officers of 
this State to have particular regard to the above resolve and act ac- 
cordingly, with vigor, prudence and discretion, reserving appeals to 
this Council, or a committee thereof, where the same is requested. " 
hi the Council, startling news is broken at 2 o'clock A. M., Decem- 
ber 8th. " Aletter was laid before the board from Col. Bayard to 
Mr. Andrew Hodge, dated at Trenton, 2 o'clock yesterday after- 
noon, informing that General Howe was advancing at the head of 
his army toward Head-quarters at Princetown; whereupon Com- 
modore Sevmore v. as sent for and directed to order all the armed 
boats to be dispatched to Trenton immediately to assist in removing 
the stores, and any other service they may be required. " " Order- 
ed that the several ferries over Schuylkill be put in a condition to 
afive the utmost assistance to the citizens and others, who may have 
occasion to pass and repass in this time of danger. " In the after- 
noon "Letters were dispatched to the Colonels or Commanding 
Officers of the several battalions of militia in this State, informing 
them of the movements of the enemy, and entreats them to march 
with their battal ions to succor General "Washington, and empower- 
ing them to impress wagons to assist the inhabitants of the country 
to remove their effects, if not to be had without. ' : On the 9th 
"An order was drawn on Mr. Nesbit in favor of Philip Boehm, of 
Northampton county, for one thousand dollars, for the use of the 
militia of that county, " It was also " Resolved, That our treasury 
and the books of that office be removed to Lancaster, and that a 

36 Washington Dictatorial. 

wagon be procured to-morrow morning early for that purpose. ' ; 
By December 10th, matters had reached such a crisis that General 
Washington took upon himself to order out the militia of Pennsyl- 
vania, without waiting for the sanction of the State authorities, and 
" The Council being informed by General Washington that he had 
given notice to the several Colonels of Bucks county militia with- 
out delay to march their men to Head-quarters, and as it appears 
to this board that the measures taken by the General are essentially 
necessary at this critical time, it is terefore — Resolved, That the 
Colonels or Commanding Officers of that county comply with the 
General's request without delay, any order of this board before, 
notwithstanding." The 11th brings the forcible impressing of citi- 
zens into the public service, for the defence of the city. "General 
Washington having applied to this board to give Major General 
Putnam all the assistance in our power toward throwing up works 
of defence for this city, which are absolutely necessary; and as ma- 
ny of its inhabitants have not taken up arms to defend it against 
the invasion with which it is now threatened, whose indispensable 
duty it is to contribute in some way to the common defence, there- 
fore — Resolred, That all able-bodied men, inhabitants of this city 
and environs, do contribute their equal proportion of labor, either 
by themselves or their substitutes, towards raising the necessary 
works of defence, the persons so employed to have the same pay 
and rations as the militia in the field, and in case any person shall 
neglect or refuse to serve in his turn, the Commanding Officer, or 
such person as he shall appoint for that purpose, is hereby author- 
ized to seize and make sale of the goods and chattels of the respec- 
tive delinquents, to the amount of such sum as shall induce another 
person to perform the work in their stead; and it is recommended 
to the General to call forth the inhabitants to this service by regu- 
lar rotation, in such manner as may most effectually promote the 
same." If the Colonels of militia, who had been ordered out, were 

Washington s Summons to Northampton. 37 

not able to bring onto the field their whole commands, they were 
directed to forward as many men as they could, as is seen by action 
taken the 13th. " Resolved, That the officers of militia who can 
raise indiscriminately, out of any battal ion or battal ions, a number 
of men to join General Washington's army, are herein- fully author- 
ized and empowered so to do; and it is recommended to all the 
said officers to use their best endeavors to forward this salutary 
business, agreeably to the Hesolves of the Honorable House of 
Assembly of yesterday, for which purpose they shall be paid all 
reasonable expenses." On the 17th we find matters urged in 
Mr. Rosbrugh's county by the offer of advanced pay to those 
who would enlist to save the imperiled country. "An order was 
drawn on Mr. Nesbit in favor of David Dashler for 2000 dollars, to 
be paid to Peter Rhoads, Esq'r., of Northampton county, for the 
purpose of paying a month's wages advance to the militia of the 
said county. " The same day it was — "Resolved, That it be recom- 
mended to General "Washington to issue orders immediately for the 
militia of Bucks and Northampton counties forthwith to join his ar- 
my, and to disarm ever}' person who does not obey the summons, 
and to seize and treat as enemies all those who shall attempt to op- 
pose the execution of this measure, and likewise every person in 
those counties who are known or suspected to be enemies to the 
United States." Accordingly General Washington sent from his 
Head-quarters in Bucks county, the following letter to ColoneUohn 
Siegfried of Allen township, where Mr. Rosbrugh and his congre- 
gation were located : 


The Council of Safety of this State, by their re- 
wolves of the 1 7th inst., empowered me to call out the militia of 
'Northampton county, to the assistance of the Continental army, 
rhat by our joint endeavors, we may put a stop to the progress of 

38 Mr. Rosbrugh Takes the Decisive Step. 

the enemy, who are making preparations to advance to Philadel- 
phia as soon as they cross the Delaware, either by boats or on the 
ice. As I am unacquainted with the names of the Colonels of your 
militia, I have taken the liberty to enclose you six letters, in which 
you will please insert the names of the proper officers, and send 
them immediately to them by persons in whom you can conlide for 
their delivery. If there are not as many Colonels as letters you 
may destroy the balance not wanted. I earnestly entreat those 
who are so far lost to a love of country as to refuse to lend a hand 
to its support at this time, they depend upon being treated as their 
baseness and want of public spirit will most justly deserve..: 

I Am, Sir, Your Most Obedient Servant: 

George Washington." 



The general excitement revealed by the foregoing records, in 
which Mr. Rosbrugh's community in common with others shared, 
together with the direct appeal which General Washington's letter 
made to the members of his congregation as residents of Allen 
township, where Colonel Siegfried lived, were enough to bring the 

The Patriotic Sermon. 80 

patriotic pastor to definite action. He assembled his congregation 
and read to them the call for reinforcements. He reasoned with 
and urged them to action. Having ascended the pulpit in the old 
church he took for his text Judges 5 : 23, "Curse ye Meroz, saith 
the angel ot the Lord; curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; be- 
cause they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord 
against the mighty." Having finished the sermon he told the peo- 
ple he could die in the full faith of what he had preached, the next 
moment. He had intended to go with his people to the field of bat- 
tle in his proper capacity of Chaplain, if they would consent to 
march to the country's rescue. After sermon the people expressed 
their willingness to go if he would be their commander. This was 
a position he had not thought of occupying, and in which he would 
be exposed to more danger than if acting as Chaplain. 
fie desired therefore to consult his beloved wife before acceding to 
the people's desire. Thus the congregation separated for the day. 
Let us now follow Mr. Rosbrugh to the home in the little hol- 
low in Allen township. Let us look in upon the interesting family 
upon this cold December night. Here is the wife, with heart full 
doubtless, at thought of the trying circumstances by which they 
were surrounded. Her sister's husband was a prisoner of war, con- 
signed to the tender mercies of the enemy. Some of her neighbors 
were sharing his hard fate. Her brother John was in Philadelphia 
devising means, with the other members of Congress, whereby their 
families might be protected from the cruelties of an invading foe. 
Here are the little children, James, Letitia, Mary, Sarah and John, 
the oldest only nine years of age, too young to appreciate the sad 
circumstances surrounding the parents. The father makes known 
to the mother the desire of the people that he should go to the field 
of battle as their commander. She knows that the position is at- 
tended with many dangers, and in view of the recent sad news, she 
knows not but that the husband might ere long be slain in battle or 

40 Last Will and Testament. 

taken prisoner, as her brother-in-law had been , and what would 
then become of herself and these little ones. But the country call- 
ed and none should refuse. The people desiring her husband to go 
with them — not as Chaplain but as commander — she said " Then go. " 
The matter being now settled, let us look in upon the man of God 
as he puts his house in order as if fjreseeing an early death. Let 
us follow his pen as he makes his last will and testament. Let us 
note his words of sorrow and manly devotion. 

* "Last will of 1 
John Rosbkugh. J 

In the name of God, Amen. December }"e 18th, 1776 — I, John 
Rosbrugh, of Allen towuship, Northampton county, and Province 
of Pennsylvania, being in perfect health, sound judgment and 
memOry, through ye great and tender mercy of God, but calling to 
mind that my dissolution may be near at hand, and that it is ap- 
pointed tor all men once to die, therefore I constitute, ordain and 
appoint this to be my last will and testament, in ye form and man- 
ner following: In ye first place, having received many and singu- 
lar blessings from Almighty God, in this the land of my pilgrimage, 
more especially a loving and faithful wife and five promising chil- 
dren, T do leave and bequeath them all to ye protection, mercy and 
grace of God, from whom I have received them, being encouraged 
thereto by God's gracious direction and faithful promise, Jer. 49 : 11 
"Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let 
thy widows trust in me." Secondly: T appoint my beloved wife 
and faithful companion, Mrs. Jean Posbrugh, to be my lawful attor- 
ney to require, demand and sue for and by all lawful means and 
ways to recover all and singular, ye debts due to me either by bonds, 
bills, notes or book accounts or otherwise; and also I do will and 

* Will Book No. 1, Northampton County Records, p. 149. 

Last Will and Testament 41 

appoint my above attorney to pay all my just and lawful debts, to 
take receipts and give discharges as amply and fully as if I were 
personally present. And further I will and bequeath to my deceas- 
ed brother's sons, Robert Rosbrugh and John Rosbrugh — to Robert 
ye sum of five pounds, and to John the sum of ten pounds, to be 
paid to them out of my estate, as soon as may be conveniently done 
after my decease. And as for the remainder of my estate, I will 
leave and bequeath to my beloved wife, Mrs. Jean Rosbrugh, and 
to my dear children; and it is my will that it remain undivided, to 
be used and improved for ye benefit of ye family, at ye discre- 
tion of my wife, until some material alteration may happen in ye 
family — that is to say, either her death, or if in process of time my 
widow should see fit to change her condition by a second marriage 
— then I appoint my executors to make a division, giving to her 
and to each of the children, such a part as they shall in justice and 
reason, judge proper, without any regard had to former customs or 
usages, but still regard is to be had to merit and circumstances of 
ye parties, and then I appoint ye executors to be. the guardians for 
the children, but if she continue as my widow till ye children come 
of age, I desire that she, with the advice of ye executors, just give 
such a part to each of them as her circumstances will admit. And 
I ordain, constitute and appoint the Rev'd Mr. Alex'r Mitchell, my 
faithful and dear brother in ye gospel of Christ, and my faithful 
and dear brother in-law, Mr. John Ralston, to be whole and sole 
executors of this my last will and testament. In witness whereof 
I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 19th day of December, 

John Rosbrugh. [Seal.] 

Signed, sealed, pronounced and declared to be my last will and 
testament, in presence of us, 

John walkek. 
William Caruthers. " 

42 The Military Company Formed. 

The will written, we may suppose the father and mother retire 
for the night, but more to ponder than to sleep. The morning 
dawns and we see the father take his eldest bov, and with him ride the church, upon the faithful gray horse, which was toper- 
form this accustomed service now for the last time. The people as- 
sembled at the church, but having been home with their families, 
and having more fully "counted the cost" of go'insr to war, thus 
leaving their families in a manner unprotected, they hesitated to 
take the final step. The pastor having decided to accede to their 
request to take command of them if they would go, told all who 
felt it their duty not to enlist, to go home and take care of their 
own affairs and look also to the interests of those who went. At 
the same time he told all who felt as he did, that duty called to the 
country's rescue, to follow him. lie now put a musket to his shoul- 
der and marched out to the highway, and all fell into line and fol- 
lowed. The little boy James, rode the gray horse by his father's 
side till they passed over the brow of the hill, just east ot their 
home, as we suppose. Then the father took him from the horse, 
kissed him and bade him go home to his mother, and be a good 
boy till he should return — he never saw his father's face again. 

In this company, among the rest, were John, Robert, James 
and Francis Hays, sons of John flays, who had immigrated to the 
Irish Settlement in Northampton county, from West-Donegal in Ire- 
land, in 17-52. The eldest son, John, had married Barbara King, 
daughter of James King of the Irish Settlement. John Ralston, 
member of Congress, also had married a daughter of Mr. King, 
named Christiana. Thus the two men were brothers-in-law to each 
other, whilst Mr. Rosbrugli was brother-in-law to Mr. Ralston. 

The company doubtless marched eastward from the church, 
past Mr. Rosbrugh's home, till they came to the cross-roads at Jack- 
sonville, in East-Allen township, where they turned southward to- 
ward Philadelphia, They doubtless crossed the Lehigh at or near 

Arrival at Philadelphia and First Letter to Wife. 48 

Bethlehem, and followed the old "Bethlehem road" to the city. 
Here they arrived probably on the 24th of December, 1776. The 
following from the minutes o'* the Council of Safety, December 
26th, doubtless applied, at least in part, to them: 

" Order drawn on G. Bickman to pay ten pounds seven shillings 
and sixpence, for victualing the first division of third battallion of 
Northampton county militia. " 

Thus in eight days from the time the Council of Safety issued their 
call for troops, Mr. Rosbrugh and his parishioners, as a military 
company, were upon the field ready for action. As Mr. Rosbrugh 's 
brother-in-law, John Ralston, was in the city in connection with his 
duties as a member of the' Continental Congress, with him the pa- 
triot pastor spent the night of the 24th of December. The next day, 
Christmas, he wrote the following letter to his wife: 

* " My Dearest Companion : 

I gladly embrace ye opportunity 
of felling you that I am still yours, and also in a tolerable state of 
health, thro' ye tender mercy of our dear Lord. The important 
crisis seems to draw near, which I trust may decide the query 
whether Americans shall be slaves or free men. May God grant 
ye latter, however dear it may cost. An engagement is expected 
in a few days. All our Company are in Philadelphia in health and 
in good spirits. They are under the command of General Putnam, 
and it is expected they will be ordered to ye Jerseys to-morrow or 
next day. I cannot write much at present, only that we have had 
some encouraging news from ye Jerseys, but whether true or false 
we cannot determine. My dearest creature, ye throne of Grace is 
free and open; I trust you have an interest there; it will be to your 

* Genealogies, Necrology and Eeminiscences of the Irish Settlement, by the Author 
of this Paper, p. 267. 

44 Scarcity of Salt. 

interest and happiness to live near ye Throne; you will find ye way 
of duty ye only way of safety. Farewell for a while. Please to 
present my eompliments to Stephen and Nancy f and to all ye chil- 
dren. Praying that God may pour out his blessing upon you al), 
this from your truly affectionate husband: 

Jno. Rosbkugh. 
P. S. Last night I lodged with Jno. Ralston; he is well. 
Philadelphia, December 25th, 1776." 

Whilst he periled his life for the common welfare, he was not 

unmindful of the particular needs of his own family and friends at 
home. This was manifested in the exertion he made to secure for 
them that prime necessity of life, salt, which it was difficult to ob- 
tain in those Revolutionary days, and of which there was a great, 
scarcity. The great depot for this commodity was at Germantown. 
With regard to it we find such regulations as follows, viz.: 

"Resolved, That the salt now in possession of the Council of 
Safety, be immediately sent to the Committees of the several coun- 
ties in the following proportions, to wit: Philadelphia county, 80 
bushels; Chester, 80; Bucks, 80; Lancaster, 100; York, 80; Cum- 
berland, 80; Berks, 80: Northampton, 60; Bedford, 60; Northum- 
berland, 60; Westmoreland, 60: more or less as the quantity in 
store may measure. * * * The Committees are to sell it to the 
people at the rate of 15s per bushel, and in no greater quantity than 
half a bushel to any one family. They are to make as equal distri- 
bution as they can, according to the necessities of the people, for 
which purpose they are to require a declaration of what quantity 
they are possessed of more than their just proportion of this neces- 
sary article, at a time of such very great scarcity of it. " On the 
23d of December it was " Resolved, That the salt to be sent to the 

f Servants. 

Commissioned Chaplain . 45 

several counties of this State, be sold out to the militia only who go 
into actual service at this time, or to their families, in the manner 
directed in our resolve of the 23d inst., as sent to the Committees. '*' 
In further carrying out of this design, on November 30th, it was 
'' Ordered, That the proportion of salt belonging to this State for the 
county of Philadelphia, be immediately put into the hands of the 
Colonels or Commanding Officers of the battalions of militia of 
said county, to be sold out on the terms mentioned in our resolves 
of the 23d instant, to the militia who go into active service only. ' : 
By the 9th of December it was " Resolved, That the regulations , 
lately adopted by this Council concerning salt, be no longer contin- 
ued, and that all persons shall be at liberty to import that article 
and sell it in such manner and such prices as they shall find volun- 
tary purchasers. " It seems that owing to the removal of the re- 
strictions as to the price, or from some other cause, the commodity, 
by the 26t'i of December, was held by those who possessed it, at a 
price little short of extortion. On this day we are told Mr. Ros- 
brugh purchased a bushel of salt, for which he paid $60, [?] with 
a view of having it distributed among his congregation. lie 
also possessed himself of a circular giving an account of atroci- 
ties perpetrated by British officers. On the evening of this day 
(December 26th,) he wrote to his wife with regard to the bushel 
of salt, and enclosed the circular relative to the atrocities of the 
British officers. In this letter he said also : \ 

"I have received this afternoon a commission sent nic by 
the Council of Safet , to act a-; Chaplain of Northampton county 
militia, and am now entered upon the duties of my office. Oh! 
that God would enable me to be faithful. " 

In the minutes of the Council of Safety, December 26th, 1776, 
the following record is found : 

" Commission made out for Jno. Rosbrugh as Chaplain to 
3d. battallion Of Northampton militia. 

46 Colonel Siegfried Commissioned. 

Thus was he relieved of the command of the company which he 
mustered and led to the seat of war, and Captain John Hays as- 
sumed the responsibilities of this position. This turn of affairs is 
readily understood when we remember, as indicated above, that 
each of these men was brother-in-law to Mr. Ralston, member of 
Congress. Mr. Rosbrugh's duties were now those of Chaplain, not 
simply tc the company which he raised, but to all those troops from 
Northampton county known as the Third Battalion of militia. 
On the same day that Mr. Kosbrugh received his commission as 
Chaplain, Colonel John Siegfried, to whom General Washington 
addressed his call for the Northampton county militia, was commiss- 
ioned Lieutenant Colonel of the same battal ion, the following be- 
ing the record: "Commission tilled for Juo. Sigfret, Lt. Col. 3d. 
Batt'n Northampton." 



Whilst the foregoing circumstances were transpiring at Phila- 
delphia, there were important operations going on at Trenton. The 
British were not slow to follow up the advantage they had gained 
by the fall of Fort Washington. The retreating Continental army 
had scarcely reached the Pennsylvania shore, when a column of the 


w 1776. 

\4 , 


IlIV Kl x \ 


DIAGRAM. To illustrate the Wattle of Trenton, Dec. 26th, 
1770 — at which the Hessians were captured — and the battle of 
Assunpink, or second battle of Trenton, Jan. 2d, 1777 — at which 
Mr. Rosbrugh was killed. 

References. A. Route of Washington and Pennington Road. 
15. Hessian outpost. C. Hand's rifle corps D. Captain Forrest's 
battery on Kins street. E. Point at which Hessians surrendered. 
F. Virginia troops. G. King- street. H. American troops in bat- 
tle of Assunpink. I. Water street — route of Gen. Sulivan. J. 
Ferry. K. Ford. I,. Morrisville. M. Green street. N. Green 
street bridge. <). Spot where Mr. Rosbrugh was killed. P. Road 
to Bordentowu. Q. Assunpink creek. 

Distribution of American Army. 47 

enemy occupied Trenton. The British army dared not attempt to 
cross the Delaware, filled as it was with floating ice, to pursue fur- 
ther their flying foe. They waited for the flood to subside and the 
waters to freeze, that they might thus have a natural bridge upon 
which to cross, crush their enemy, enter Philadelphia, and either 
capture or disperse the Continental Congress. This delay, to them, 
was dangerous, as the sequel shows. The army was conveniently 
distributed to await the opportunity for a forward movement. There 
were detachments at Burlington, Bordentown, Mount Holly and 
Black Horse, whilst divisions had been left at Princeton and New 
Brunswick. The special charge, however, of fifteen hundred Hess- 
ians and a company of British Light-horse, stationed at Trenton, 
was to watch the movements of the Continental army. Washing- 
ton was eagerly awaiting reinforcements; but he divined that an 
opportunity would be afforded for striking an effective blow, upon 
the advent of the Christmas holidays. The Hessians were given to 
drinking and carousing at this time, and Washington felt that his 
opportunity was to fall upon them in the midst of their festivities 
and crush them when least prepared and least expecting it. The 
military forces by which this was to be accomplished, were various- 
ly distributed. The remnant of the Continental army was with 
General Washington, on December 25th, 177G, encamped near 
Taylorsville, on the west bank of the Delaware. The place was 
then known as McKon key's ferry — or eight-mile-ferry — above Tren- 
ton. There were troops also, under Genera! Diekiiiaon, at Yard- 
leyville, and some detachments encamped further up the river still. 
The Pennsylvania levies — the exertions for the forwarding of which 
we have already pointed out — were collected in two bodies at diff- 
erent points. One body was at Morrisville, directly opposite Tren- 
ton, under the command of General Ewing, or Irwine. The other 
was at Bristol, under command of General Cadwalader. General 
Washington's plan was for General Ewing to cross the river at or 

18 Preparing to Capture Hessians. 

just below Trenton, whilst General Cadwalader was to cross still 
further down, on the nighl of the 25th of December, and thus cut 
off the Hessians from a retreal to the British troops stationed at 
Bordentown and Burlington below, whilst he would cross at Mc- 
Konkey's ferry, eight miles above, and fall upon them from the 
north and east and cut off their retreal to the troops lying at Prince- 
ton and New Brunswick. Generals Ewing and Cadwalader how- 
ever, tailed in their pari of the arrangement. On the morning of 
I >. cember 26th, General Cadwalader wrote from Bristol as follows: 

•• < lentlemen : 

Thee was a general attack to be made last 
night, The river was impassable here, and we made the attempt at 
Dunk"- ferry, but found it impracticable to get over our cannon. 
We returned this morning to Bristol about four. I this moment 
have an account by Mr. McLane, (a man of veracity,) that he was 
at Trenton terry this morning and heard a very heavy tiring on the 
river and Pen uy town roads, that lead to Trenton — the heavy tiring 
lasted aboul one-fourth an hour and continued to moderate for 
about three-quarters. The Light-horse and Hessians were seen fly- 
ing in great ci illusion to \ards Bordentown, but without cannon or 
wagons, bo that the enemy must have lost the whole. A party of 
our men intercepted aboul a dozen Hessians in Bight of our people 
on this side and brought them to the ferry and huzzaed. I have 
ordered the boats from Dunk's, and shall pass as soon as possible. 
We can muster here about 1800 men if the expedition last night in 
the storm doea not thin our ranks. Has General Putnam crossed, 
and with what number? Pray, let me know, everything of this 
kind gives confidence to the troops, f have no doubt of the report, 
b heavy firing was heard at this place. An attempt was made to 

* PfeoosjlTania ^rehires, p. 136. 

Washington's Crossing. 49 

pass at a little below Trenton ferry, but could not get over, that 
would have made the victory still more complete." 
Later in the day he wrote : 

I wrote this morning to General Washington, 
directed to General Ewing at Trenton ferry, who informs me that 
he cannot yet ascertain the particulars of this morning's action. 
One wagon loaded with arms was brought down*to the ferry (Hess- 
ian arms) and safely landed on this shore, and six Hessians. We 
have taken fourteen or sixteen pieces of cannon, a considerable of 
stores and clothing. The number of killed, wounded and prisoners 
is very considerable. " 

The same difficulty which General Cadwalader met, was expe- 
rienced by General Ewing, as we see intimated in the above letter. 
Of this, General Washington also, said: 

* "General Ewing vasto have crossed before day, at Trenton 
ferry, and taken possesion of the bridge leading to the town; but 
the quantity of iee was so great, that though he did everything in 
his power to effect it, he could not cross." 

These failures however, did not prevent General Washington from 
carrying out his part of the plan, and making the whole underta- 
king a success, f At McKonkey's ferry he had under his command 
on the evening of December 25th, twenty-four hundred brave and 
resolute men, and twenty pieces of artillery. As the shades of 
night closed in and shrouded their movements from view, these 
commenced to cross to the New Jersey side. If the traveler leav- 
ing Trenton by the Belvidere Delaware Railroad, will look out of 
the car window on the river side when the station "Washing- 
ton's Crossing" is called, his eye will rest on the scene where this 

* Historical Collections of the State of New Jersey, p. 293. f See ibid p. 296. 

50 March on Trenton. 

memorable event was enacted. Owing to the ice and other imped- 
iments it was near four o r clock in the morning, of the 26th, before 
all the men and artillery were safely landed. The men were, many 
of them, thinly clad and poorly shod, whilst snow and sleet were 
falling and the ground icy and rough. General Washington had 
been sitting upon a bee-hive silently awaiting the conclusion of the 
task of crossing the angry waters, but when it was accomplished, 
he gave words of encouragement and advice to his trusty followers, 
and took up his line of march for Trenton. Silence was enjoined 
upon all, lest they should be discovered by the enemy and their 
plan frustrated. Guides were sent ahead, in citizens dreso, to obtain 
what information they could of the enemy's position. The troops 
marched in a body for about a mile from the river, when they ar- 
rived at the Bear Tavern; thence tiny marched down about three 
and one-half miles to the village of Birmingham. Here they halted 
and an examination Mas made of the condition of their firearms and 
ammunition. Alas! they found that the falling snow and sleet had 
wet their priming, and they were doomed, it seemed, to meet and 
fight the enemy at the point of the bayonet. At Birmingham the 
army was separated into two divisions, and it was decided to march 
the remaining four and one-half miles by different routes. One di- 
vision, under the command of General Sullivan, took the river road. 
The other division under General Washington, accompanied by 
Generals Lord Sterling, Mercer and Stevens, took to the left and 
marched down the Scotch road until they struck the road from 
Pennington, about a mile from Trenton, and thence toward the 
town. So obedient had all been to the injunction of silence, that 
the enemy did not discover their approach until the guides came in 
contact with their out-posts in the edge of the town just at break of 
day. The challenge having been given and answered, and the dis- 
covery made that the Continental army was upon them, the sentries 
fired and retreated. The Americans now rushed forward and drove 

Battle of Trenton and Capture of Hessians. 51 

the out-guards into the town. Arriving at the head of King street, 
Captain Thomas Forrest planted a six-gun battery to sweep it. The 
enemy endeavored also to bring a battery to bear in the same street, 
seeing which, Captain William Washington, and Lieutenant James 
Monroe — afterwards President Monroe — rushed forward with the 
advance guard and captured the guns whilst the artillerists were in 
the act of firing. Part of the troops under General Washington 
marched down Queen street and bore off to the left, to cut off the 
retreat of the enemy in the direction of Princeton. The division 
under General Sullivan, which had marched by the river road, 
came in contact with the enemy in the south-western part of the 
town about the same time that General Washington fell upon them 
from the north. Both divisions of the army pressed the enemy, 
who "rave no verv serious resistance until thev were driven through 
Second street, to a point near the First Presbyterian church. Here 
they attempted to make a stand, but it was of short duration. 
Finding themselves surrounded and overpowered, they surrendered. 
Colonel Rahl, their commander, was mortally wounded in the early 
part of the conflict, whilst endeavoring to rally his troops. He sur- 
rendered his sword to General Washington, after which he was ta- 
ken to his Head-quarters, at the residence of Stacy Potts, on the 
west side of Warren, opposite Perry street, where he died. Owing 
to the failure of Generals Ewing and Cadwalader to cooperate with 
General Washington, the British Light-horse and some of the Hess- 
ians escaped, otherwise all the British forces in the place would have 
been captured. However, the result of the undertaking was a grat- 
ifying success, which greatly elated and encouraged the dispirited 
Continental army. General Washington immediately marched his 
prisoners up to MeKonkey's ferry, where he took them across to 
the Pennsylvania side, and followed with his brave little army. 
Of the expedition he says in bis report, dated Newtown, December 
27th, 1776: 

52 General Campaign. 

* "Finding from our disposition, that they were surrounded, 
and they must inevitably be cut to pieces if they made any further 
resistance, they agreed to lay down their arms. The number that 
submitted in this manner, vas 28 officers, and 886 men. Col. Rohl, 
the commanding officer, and 7 others, were found wounded in the 
town. I do not know exactly how many they had killed; but I 
fancy, not above twenty or thirty, as they never made any regular 
stand. Our loss is trifling indeed, only two officers and one or two 
privates wounded. " 

Whilst this capture and landing of the Hessians upon the Penn- 
sylvania shore, accompanied by the Continental army, was a success 
in one sense, it was doubtless in another sense, part of a failure to 
which Generals Cadwalader, Ewing and Putnam contributed by 
their inability to overcome the difficulties which confronted them, 
and which failure was afterwards retrieved only by the smilings of 
Providence. It was doubtless General Washington's design at this 
time no longer to remain on the defensive, but commence an offen- 
sive movement against, the enemy. The capture of the Hessians, it 
would seem, was but the first stroke in the contemplated campaign. 
Of this design we have evidence in the communications above, from 
Mr. Rosbniiih and General Cadwalader. In Mr. Rosbrugh's first 
letter to his wile, written December 25th, it is said: "The important 
crisis seems to draw near, which I trust may decide the query 
whether Americans shall be slaves or free men. * * * An engage- 
ment is expected in a few days. All our company are in Philadel- 
phia in good health and in good spirits. They are under the com- 
mand of General Putnam, and it is expected they will be ordered 
to ye Jerseys to-morrow or next day. " From this it will be seen 
that Mr. Rosbrugh and his company, with the others under General 
Putnam at Philadelphia, were virtually, if not actually, uuder 

* Historical Collections of the State of New Jersey, p. 293. 

Plait of Campaign. 53,- 

marching orders on the 25th, and this could not have been with a 
view to assist in the capture of the Hessians, for this was to be at- 
tempted that very night. It could not mean otherwise therefore, 
than that they were to engage in a general campaign. The same 
thing is reflected by the words of General Cadwalader written at 
Bristol, the next morning, December 26tb. He said ''There was a 
general attack to be made last night. * * * I have ordered the 
boats from Dunk's and shall pass as soon a-< possible. * * * Has 
General Putnam crossed and with what number?" This implies 
that General Washington's crossing to Trenton wa^ with the pur- 
pose of staying, as there would have been no object in the crossing 
of General Cadwalader after the battle, if all were to return to the 
Pennsylvania shore. His words also imply that General Putnam 
was to cooperate with him and Generals Washington and Ewing 
in a general movement. The plan of the campaign therefore seems 
to have been to concentrate a sufficient force at Trenton and below, 
to defeat or capture all the detachments of British troops at Trenton, 
Bordentown, Mount Holly and Burlington, and then mass against 
the heavier bodies at Princeton and New Brunswick. The capture 
of the Hessians was doubtless intended to be one of three or four 
simultaneous blows again-t the eitemv on the night of December 
25th. That against the ifessiaus at Trenton was successfully made, 
but owing to the inability of the other Generals to cross the river, 
General Washington made it single handed. If he had decided to 
remain at Trenton — send his prisoners and booty over the river — 
and await the crossing of Generals Cadwalader, Ewing and Putnam, 
the British forces at Princeton —nine miles distant — might have 
fallen upon him from the north, and those at Bordentown and below, 
might have fallen upon him from the south, and crushed him before 
the reinforcements could have come to his relief. His discretion, 
therefore, served him as the better part of valor, and he accordingly 
withdrew to McKonkey's ferry and recrossed the river. 

54 Favorable Providence. 

The consternation that must have filled the British camp how- 
ever, at the news of this hold and successful adventure on the part 
of the Continental army, can well he imagined. The next day, the 
27th, that ..portion of the army lying at Princeton, pushed forward 
to Trenton and started in pursuit of General Washington. They 
followed up the Scotch road sonic distance and then crossed over to 
Birmingham. To their chagrin however, they soon learned that 
the Continental army had safely reerossed the Delaware with their 
prisoners and booty. Learning this, they returned to Princeton. 
But circumstances now conspired to bring on speedily a second 
conflict between the two armies. As Trenton was cleared of its 
British garrison, it would be a comparatively easy matter, under 
favorab'e circumstances, for the Americans to cross a sufficient 
force at that point to cut off' and capture those troops which were 
stationed below at Bordentown, Mount Holly and Burlington, as 
was doubtless originally designed. This fact therefore would rouse 
the British officers to push forward from Princeton and New Bruns- 
wick all their forces as soon as possible to provide against further 
disaster and make amends as far as possible for the loss sustained 
at Trenton. Another circumstance transpired calculated to call 
forth all the energies of both British and Americans to accomplish 
the ends which they respectively had in view. When General 
Washington first crossed into Pennsylvania, early in December, he 
was careful to keep all boats and other means of crossing, out of 
the hands of the British. The enemy were deterred therefore from 
crossing by the openness of the weather and the tempestuousness 
of the river, added to the lack of means of transportation. This is 
clearly intimated by Washington's words in his letter to Colonel 
Siegfried of Allen township. But the storm of sleet and snow of 
the 26th, terminated in bitter cold. So cold did it become that be- 
fore the captured Hessians and Continental troops could be crossed 
to the Pennsylvania side on that day, some of Washington's soldiers, 

The Last Letter. 5*5 

it is said, were frozen to death. The river doubtless then became 
frozen over — for which the enemy had been waiting — and the nat- 
ural bridge was thus formed for them to cross upon at any time or 
place and march upon Philadelphia. The same advantage was af- 
forded for the Americans to cross their armies, which had been 
lying at Taylorsville, Morrisville and Bristol, and throw them be- 
tween the detachments of the enemy at Bordentown, Mount Holly 
and Burlington, thus cutting them oft* from the main body at Prince- 
ton and New Brunswick. General Washington was not slow to 
make the most of this advantage. He proceeded to transfer the 
troops to the New Jersey side of the river, at Trenton. In doing 
this he would naturally hurry up all the troops in the vicinity, and 
it was doubtless on this account that Mr. Rosbrugh and his compa- 
ny, under command ot" Captain Mays, were sent in haste from Phil- 
adelphia up to Bristol. Accordingly we find him at Bristol ferry 
on December 27th. Here he wrote the'following letter, doubtless 
on horseback, the brackets showing where the paper is gone. It is 
yellow and much broken. 

* "[Friday] morning, 10 o'clock at Bristol Ferry, Decem[ber 
27th, 1776.] 1 am still yours [but] I havn't a minute to tell yo[u 
that by God's grace our] company, are all well. We are going over 
to N[ew Jersejy. You would think strange to see your Husband, 
an old man, riding with a French fusee slung at his back. This 
may be ye la[st letter] ye shall receive from your Husband. I have 
counted myself you[rs, and have been enlarged of our mutual love 
to God. As I am out of doors [I cannot at present] write more. I 
send my compliments to you, my dear, and children. Friends, 
pray for us. 

From your loving Husband, 

Jno. Rosbkugh. " 

* Genealogies, Necrology and Reminiscences of the Irish Settlement, by the Author 
of this Paper, p. 269. 

56 British 31ove on Trenton. 

This letter is addressed on the back: "To Mrs. Jean Rosbrugh, 
Delawr Forks. " "The last letter. " The words " The last letter, " 
are no doubt in the handwriting of the bereaved wile. This is the 
last piece of writing known to have come from his pen. As we have 
already seen, the energies of the Americans were now directed to 
the concentration of their forces at Trenton. This doubtless went 
on with vigor between the return of the British to Princeton on the 
27th, and the 2d. of January, 1777. By this time Mr. Rosbrugh, 
and the company he led out, with the others, had arrived at Trenton. 
Cornwallis, having hastened back from New York, whither he had 
gone to embark ior England, supposing the contest in America was 
about ended, moved forward from Princeton and precipitated the 
battle of the Assunpink, or second battle of Trenton, which, to the 
British arnn', was one of the most bloody and disasterous of the 
many conflicts in which they engaged during the Revolutionary 
struggle. It was withal, one of the most important in its bearing 
upon the interests of American Independence, though it has ever 
been lightly passed over by the historian. Little do the many thou- 
sands of passengers, who travel over the Pennsylvania Railroad 
between Xew York and Philadelphia, think, as they halt at the 
depot in Trenton, that they are near the spot where 
was the thickest of the fight in the hotly contested battle of the 
Assunpink. Little do they think as they gaze upon the sluggish 
waters of the stream as they flow by that once they ran red with 
British blood. Yet such are the facts. This memorable conflict 
occurred on the 2d. of January, 1777. As might have been expec- 
ted, the British at Princeton and Xew Brunswick were hurried for- 
ward with all speed, to retrieve as far as possihle, the loss sustained 
in the capture of the Hessians on the 26th of December, by General 
Washington. Their exertions would be intensified by learning 
that the Continental army, largely reinforced, had crossed the Del- 
aware and occupied Trenton. Having massed as heavy a column of 

Battle efAssmvprnk. 5t 

troops as possible therefore, they pushed forward to Trenton, where 
they arrived on the afternoon of January 2d. General Washington, 
measuring the strength of the enemy, deemed it prudent to with- 
draw to the south side of the Assunpink, and take advantage of the 
stream and rising ground beyond, in receiving the onset of the foe. 
The withdrawal of the troops to this position we may well suppose 
was attended with some haste and confusion. The Americans had 
scarcely posted themselves ere the British, under Cornwallis, four 
or five thousand strong, came pressing forward to secure victory, 
before the sun should go down, by a contest which was intended by 
them to be short, sharp and decisive. Two points on the Assun- 
pink were of strategical importance to them, and these they imme- 
diately attempted to secure. The one was the ford where Warren 
street now crosses, and the other was the bridge on Green street, 
near the Pennsylvania Railroad depot. * The enemy formed them- 
selves into two columns, the one to force the ford at Warren street, 
and the other, the bridge on Green street. At the ford, it is said, 
they were repulsed with heavy loss, the stream being literally filled 
with their dead bodies. No better success attended their efforts on 
Green street. The Americans had planted as many cannon as 
could be brought into action, to sweep the bridge and street leading 
to it Beside this the hill-side within {run-shot of the bridge was 
covered with infantry, to p >ur in leaden hail along with the cannon, 
in dealing out death to the enemy. The British came down Green 
street toward the bridge with the tiower of their army in the van. 
When within about sixty yards of the coveted prize, they rushed to 
the charge with an exultant shout; but ere they gained the oppo- 
site bank of the stream, the American tire was so galling and de- 
structive as to cause them to retreat in confusion. Now it came 
the turn of the Americans to send forth a shout of exultation, 'vyhicb 

* See Historical Collections of the State of New Jersey, p. 301. 

b8 Circumstances Leading to Death. 

they did with a hearty good-will. Chagrined at the failure, and 
mortified by the exultations of their enemies, the British officers 
immediately reformed their ranks and rushed a second time to the 
charge. This time they were met by volleys of musketry and 
artillery redoubled in fury, and driven back again in disorder ere 
they had reached the middle of the bridge. Now another shout 
went up from the ranks of the Americans. Collecting their shat- 
tered ranks they again charged, but it was in vain. Their failure 
drew forth a final and long shout of triumph from the American 
army, and the battle of the Assunpink was over. Night now drew 
on and the two armies ceased their strife. Lighting their camp 
fires they awaited the fortunes of war upon the morrow. It was in 
the conflict of this evening that Mr. Rosbrugh lost his life. There 
have been various versions of the sad event. One is * "The heroic 
pastor was surprised in a farm-house near Pennington, by a strag- 
gling party of British troops, who finding he was a Presbyterian 
and a Whig, stabbed him mortally with their bayonets. " Another is 
| "Having taken part in the capture of the Hessians [?] at Trenton, 
the fir.-t action in which they participated, the next morning Mr. 
Rosborough while in a farm-house near the village of Pennington, 
was surprised by a scouting party of British horse, and cruelly put 
to death. " Tradition and history have handed down these with 
other statements in regard to it. The most trustworthy account 
however, is that which was given by Captain Hays, who buried the 
body, and which has been preserved in Mr. Rosbrugh's family. 
It was substantially as follows. We have seen that there was per- 
haps some confusion in the haste with which General Washington 
withdrew his army to the south side of the Assunpink, when Corn- 

* Rev. D. X. Junkin, D. D., in address at SOth anniversary of the organization of 
the Presbytery of Newton, p. 29. 

f Egle's History of Pennsylvania, p. 976. 

Mr. Bosbrugh Killed. 59 

wallis marched into the town. In the haste and confusion it seems 
he lingered behind the rest of his comrades. Seemingly not fully 
conscious of the dangers which surrounded him, he remained too 
long in the town ere he sought a place of greater safety with the 
army beyond the Assunpink. He came to a public house which 
stood upon the site now occupied by the Mechanics National Bank, 
corner of State and Warren street, in the city of Trenton. As 
night was drawing on, he tied his horse under a shed and entered 
the house to obtain some refreshments. Whilst at the table he was 
alarmed by hearing the cry "The Hessians are coming." Hasten- 
ing out, he found that his horse had been stolen. Hurrying to make 
his escape by the bridge on Green street, he found, as we have 
pointed out, that cannon had been posted to sweep it and the guard 
was instructed to allow no one to pass; beside, those in charge of it 
were fast breaking it up. He turned his steps down the stream 
toward the ford where Warren street now crosses. On arriving 
there he found it impossible to make his escape. lie then turned 
back into a grove of trees, where he was met by a small company 
of Hessians under the command of a British officer. Seeing that 
further attempt at escape was useless, he surrendered himself a pris- 
oner of war. Having done so, he offered to his captors bis gold 
watch and money if they would spare bis life for bis family's sake. 
Notwithstanding these were taken, they immediately prepared to 
put him to death. Seeing this, he knelt down at the foot of a tree 
and, it is said, prayed for his enemies. Now seventeen bayonet 
thrusts were made at his body, and one bayonet was left broken off 
in his quivering frame. Sabre slashes were made at his devoted 
head, three of which penetrated through the horsehair wig which 
he wore. So died the "Clerical Martyr of the Revolution," at 
the age of sixty-three, upon a spot now trodden by the -busy multi- 
tude, and forgotten amid the hum and bustle of commercial life in 
the heart of Trenton. As the shades of that cold and dreary winter 

60 The Burial. 

evening settled down upon the sad scene, his lifeless body became 
rigid in the icy embrace of death. The British officer at whose 
command he had been put to death, repaired to the house which 
Mr. Rosbrugh had so recently left, and there exhibited the dead 
Chaplain's watch, and boasted that he had killed a rebel parson. 
The woman of the house having known Mr. Rosbrugh, and recog- 
nizing the watch, said: "You have killed that good man, and what 
a wretched thing you have done for his helpless family this day. "' 
The enraged officer, threatening to kill her if she continued her re- 
proaches, ran away as if afraid of pursuit. 

It was not long until Captain Hays was apprised of the death 
of his pastor, upon which he hastily wrapped the body in a cloak 
and buried it where it lay, being under necessity to hurry forward 
with the rest of the troops in the night march which precipitated 
the battle of Princeton the next morning. Sometime afterward, 
Mr. DuffieM, subsequently Dr. Duffield, pastor ofthe Old Pine-street 
Presbyterian church, Philadelphia, who was a brother Chaplain in 
the Continental army, took up the body and reburied it. The re- 
markable circumstance of fresh blood flowing from the body, is said 
tn have attended the reinterment. There have been various tradi- 
tions as to the place where the body rests. A common one is that 
it lies in the burying-ground at the Old First Presbyterian church 
in Trenton. Another is that the widow and her daughter went to 
the scene of bis death to identify the body, and that the second 
burial took place at Father Cooly's grave-yard, a few miles from 
Trenton. This is highly improbable, as the oldest daughter was 
at this time less than eight years of age. Beside, the oldest son — 
then nearlv ten years of age — in after years testified that he knew 
nothing of this journey on the part of his mother, or the burial at 
this place. Mr. Llosbrugh's descendants believe that the body was 
taken to Philadelphia, hut where buried they have no means of as- 
certaining. The patriot pastor having been laid in his last resting- 









Earitan j? 0,J1 ^ 




To Illustrate the march of the American 
army after the battle of Princeton, to the 
Winter-quarters at Morristown, in 1777, 
which closed the campaign in which Mr. 
Rosbrugh's company participated. . 






-»"*\ * 

DIAGRAM, To illustrate the battle of Princeton, whore Mr. 
Rosbrugh's company fought, January 3d, 1777. References. 

A. Bridge on old Trenton road, and Worth's mill, now owned 
by Mr. Joseph Brewer. M. Friend's Meeting-house. C. Thomas 
Clark's house, now the residence of Mr. Henry Hall, where (Jen 
Mercer died. D. Where Gen. Mercer fell, mortally wounded. E. 
Head of column when first discovered by British. F. Head of col- 
umn after Gen. Mercer's euaraffement. G — II. British 17th Regi- 
ment. I — J. Gen. Mercer's command commencing the action. 
K — L. British 17th Regiment formed to dislodge Cap. Moulder's 
battery. M — N. The Pennsylvania militia — doubtless including 
Mr. Rosbrugh's company — under Washington. 0. Hitchcock's 
regiment. P — Q. Pursuit of Americans. R — S. Retreat of Brit- 
ish. T. Where battle commenced, now the residence of Mr. Post. 

Ecclesiastical Records of Death. 61 

place, on April 22d., 1777, the Presbytery of New Brunswick, to 
which he belonged, made the following record: 

" Rev. Messrs. Tennent and Rosborough have deceased since 
our last Presbytery. " 

In like manner the Synod of New York and Philadelphia, of 
which he had been a member, convened in Philadelphia May 21st., 
placed on record the following: 

* "New Brunswick Presbytery report, that the Rev. Mr. Will- 
iam Tennent departed this life March 8th., 1777; and that the 
Rev. Mr. John Rosborough was barbarously murdered by the 
enemy at Trenton on January second." 

Thus his name disappears from the records of the church 



Though Mr. Rosbrugh is laid in his narrow house, the tale 
has not all been told yet. Something remains to be said as to. 

* Records of the Presbyterian Church, p. 477. 

62 . Preliminaries to Battle of Princeton. 

the comrades and family whom he left behind. Doubtless Corn- 
wallis, when he retired to rest on the evening of that ill-fated sec- 
ond of January, 1777, confidently expected the next morning to 
gain an easy victory over the insolent and derisive American army. 
But in this a« in the attempt, to force the passes of the Assunpink, 
lie was doomed to disappointment. It was indeed a critical juncture 
in the affairs of the Continental army. The severely cold weather 
which had frozen the river subsequently to the 26th. of December, 
had now moderated. The ice was broken up, and in case of a de- 
feat, there was no reasonable hope that the Americans could escape 
to their former place of safety on the Pennsylvania side. Further- 
more the open weather had rendered the roads wellnigh impassable 
for artillery should a retreat be found necessary. But be the late 
of the Continental army what it might, the city of Philadelphia 
was, at least for the time being, comparatively safe, as the swolen 
river would be as difficult for the British to cross now as the Amer- 
icans. The bold plan therefore of Washington was to out-general 
his adversary. lie conceived the idea of moving stealthily around 
to the reai- of the enemy, and after defeating the detachment left by 
Cornwallis at Princeton, move on and capture the stores which had 
been accumulated at New Brunswick. As the strife ceased there- 
fore on the hanks of the Assunpink on the evening of January sec- 
oned, 1777, and the shades of night closed in upon the scene, a coun- 
cil of war was hastily held and this line of action adopted. Fences 
and other available material were freely used to make the camp- 
fires burn briskly, to lead the enemy to believe the Americans were 
quietly resting in their bivouac. Parties were set to work to dig 
intrenchineiits in the full hearing of the encmy r s guards. Whilst 
this ruse was being kept up, when the proper hour came, and when 
the weather again turned suddenly cold, and the ground, became suf- 
ficiently frozen to bear the artillery, the Americans silently folded 
their tents and stole away. A few were left to keep up the camp- 

Americans Arrive at Princeton, 83 

fires among whom, it is said, were two or three Of the Hays* from 
the eompany Mr. Rosbrugh led out. These were instructed to con- 
tinue in this service till toward dawn of day and then retire. * Ta- 
king the route by Sandytown and over the Quaker bridge, by sun- 
rise the next morning the army arrived at Stony Brook, a mile or 
two south of Princeton. The situation of the two armies was, at 
this juncture, anomalous. In the capture of the Hessians, when 
the British fancied Washington to be furthest away, whilst he was 
right upon them, contrariwise here, when they supposed the wily 
enemy was within their grasp upon the opposite bank of the Assun- 
pink, he was far away, even at Princeton. On the morning of Jan- 
uary 3d., 1777, at Trenton, the British commander opened his eyes 
to behold smouldering camp fires where had been the host which 
the night before dealt out death and defeat to his proud battalions. 
They were gone, but where! Not knowing what moment they 
might attack him from the most unexpected quarter, and with a 
mind full of amazement and bewilderment, a strange sound falls 
upon his ear. Can it be thunder from out a clear and crisp wintry 
sky? No, it is the voice of the enemy's artillery in his rear, and 
between him and his base of supplies. Cornwallis seeing that he 
had been out-generaled, faced about and rushed to the rescue at 
Princeton. Here the conflict grew fierce and bloody. The Amer- 
icans having crossed Stony Brook, came to a srrove of trees south 
of the old Quaker Meeting-house. Whilst the main body tiled off 
to the right and directed their course toward Princeton, a detach- 
ment under General Mercer, composed of about 350 men, under 
the immediate command of Captains Stone, Fleming and Neal, 
marched to take possession of the bridge over Stony Brook on the 
old Trenton road. This was for the two-fold purpose of cutting off 
any who might attempt to escape to the main body under Cornwal- 

* See Historical Collections of the State of New Jersey, p. 271. 

64 Battle of Princeton. 

lis at Trenton ; and for the further purpose of protecting the rear 
of the American army against the pursuit of Cornwallis, which it 
was felt must tuke place within a few hours. Lieutenant Colonel 
Mawhood in bringing up the British reserves from New Bruns- 
wick, had quartered them in Princeton during the night of the 2d. 
of January. His command was composed of the 17th., 40th. and 
55th. regiments, in connection with three troops of dragoons. On 
their march to join Cornwallis at Trenton, the 17th. regiment had 
crossed the bridge over Stony Brook on the old road to Trenton, 
before the near approach of the American army was discovered. 
Colonel Mawhood immediately turned back his command and as 
he recrossed the bridge, saw for the first time the detachment under 
General Mercer marching up the creek to secure possession of the 
bridge. The two detachments were only a few hundred yards apart 
at this juncture. Both now made a rush to obtain the advantage 
afforded by the hi^h ground near bv to the ri^ht. The Americans 
hurriedly advanced as far as what was then the house and orchard of 
William Clark, where they discovered the enemy coining up upon 
the opposite side of the rising ground. A worm fence was between 
the two lines, and to obtain possession of it both hastened forward. 
The Americans however, arrived first and delivered the opening 
lire of the contest. This was immediately returned bv a volley and 
charge upon the part of the enemy, they being at the time only 
some forty or tiftv cards distant. General Mercer's command, 
being armed only with rifles, were compelled to retire in disorder 
when but three or four volleys had been fired. General Washing- 
ton hearing the firing, immediately led the Pennsylvania militia — 
among whom were doubtless the company led out by Mr. Rosbrugh 
— to the support of General Mercer. As the British 17th. regiment 
pursued the Americans under General Mercer, to the brow of the 
hill, they there for the first time came in sight of the whole Ameri- 
can forces under General Washington. Somewhat daunted, they 

Battle of Princeton. 65 

halted and hurried forward their artillery. General Washington 
had planted a battery, under the command of Captain Moulder, to 
deliver a raking fire against the enemy as they should advance. 
As they therefore pressed back the detachment under General Mer- 
cer, they were encouraged to attempt the capture of Captain Moul- 
der's battery, hut the galling lire which he kept up with grape-shot 
soon decided them to desist. This with the discovery that other 
regiments were leaving the main body and coming to the support 
of General Washington, caused them to flee precipitately across the 
fields up Stony Brook. The artillery which they had brought up 
was abandoned and fell into the hands of the Americans, but was 
of no particular benefit to them as they lacked horses to draw it off 
the field. The 17th regiment having been defeated and dispersed, 
it remained to engage the 40th and 55th. These made a stand in 
the hollow between the residence of the late Judge Field and the 
Theological Seminary. Overwhelmed here, they fell back and ral- 
lied at the college, many taking refuge within its walls. They soon 
found however that the day was lost. In this conflict the British 
lost over one hundred killed, and nearly three hundred taken pris- 
oner. The Americans lost but slightly, perhaps not more than 
thirty killed and wounded ; but among other valuble officers, the 
brave General Mercer fell, mortally wounded, in the early part of 
the engagement. General Washington having defeated all the 
troops that could render any successful resistance, detached a party 
to proceed to and break up the bridge over Stony Brook, on the 
the road to Trenton, so that Cornwallis would thereby be impeded 
in his pursuit. Scarcely had this party completed half their task, 
when the advance guard of the British appeared on the brow of the 
hill beyond, and opened fire upon them. They however bravely 
continued their work until the cannon balls began to fall thick and 
fast around them, and having rendered the bridge impassable, they 
retired. The artillery and baggage of the enemy were detained an 
hour or more here, whilst the other troops were ordered to dash 

66 Battle of Princeton. 

through the stream — filled with ice though it was — and hurry on 
toward New Brunswick. Arriving at Princeton, they were brought 
to a sudden stand-still. General Washington had, among other 
things, captured a thirty-two pounder cannon, which he was unable 
to remove on account of its carriage being broken. When the 
Americans left, a few persons loaded this cannon, and when the 
British made their appearance, fired at them. They halted and de- 
ployed for buttle, supposing that the Americans had resolved to 
make a stand in the town To their chagrin however, when they 
moved forward to take this artillery by storm, they found it deser- 
ted and no enemy in sight. Bv this ruse another hour was lost to 
the enemy. Meanwhile General Washington had hurried forward 
through Queehston to Kingston, on the Millstone river, three miles 
north of Princeton. Here a short halt was made and a hasty coun- 
cil of war was held, on horseback. The question was whether or 
not it was expedient, under the circumstances, to attempt to reach 
New Brunswick — some eleven or twelve miles distant — and capture 
the enemy's stores. The troops had fought in the battle of the As- 
nunpink at Trenton, up to night-fall the evening previous; they 
had made the march from Trenton to Princeton during the night; 
they had been fighting and marching all the forenoon and had been 
deprived, to a large extent, of both breakfast and dinner; they 
knew that Cornwallis with his superior force must be near upon 
them in his pursuit from Trenton. If they attempted to reach New 
Brunswick in their tired and famished condition, they might be 
overtaken by the enemy and cut to pieces. Tempting therefore as 
the prize was. it was decided to file to the left at Kingston, toward 
Rocky Hill, and go down the valley of the Millstone, thus avoiding 
Cornwallis, who would be sure to push forward with all speed on 
the main road to New Brunswick. Thus closed up the scenes con- 
nected with the battle of Princeton, on January 3d, 1777. Scarcely 
had General Washington left Kingston when Cornwallis went by in 

Mr. Rosbrugti-s Company Return Home. 6T 

hot haste toward his base of supplies, thus missing his wily enemy. 
As he passed over the hill beyond Kingston, owing to the rough 
and frozen condition of the roads, some of his luggage wagons gave 
out. These he left in charge of a few hundred men, and hurried on. 
During the night, some fifteen or twenty militia-men from the 
neighborhood, surprised the guards, captured the stores and took 
them to the American army. 

From this time on, until the seventh of January— * by which 
time General Washington had arrived at Morristown — various were 
the trials and hardships of the Americans. The great object for 
which the Pennsylvania militia had been called out, was now ac- 
complished. The enemy no longer threatened Philadelphia or any 
part of Pennsylvania's soil. He was in fact exerting himself 
to abandon even the soil of New Jersey. Under such circumstances, 
the company which Mr. Rosbrugh led out felt that their duty had 
been performed, and they accordingly left the army to return to 
their peaceful avocations at home, until the necessities of the coun- 
try's eause should call them again to enter the ranks with their com- 
patriots. They arrived in "Forks of Delaware" once more, on the 
19th of January, 1777, passing through Bethlehem on that day. 

But their return, whilst gladdening many hearts, brought bit- 
terness and anguish to the bereaved wife of their patriotic pastor. 
His form was not seen among; them, but cold and lifeless it lay in 
an unmarked grave by the waters of the Assunpink at Trenton. 

Alas! bitter as this day's greetings were to her, it was but the 
beginning of sorrows. Mr. Rosbrugh 's death was a sad calamity to 
liis family, Although they were possessed of some means at the 
time of his entering the service of his country, before the Revolu- 
tionary struggle was concluded, they were reduced well-nigh to des- 
titution through the loss of their natural protector and supporter, 

* Pennsylvania Archives, p. 177. — General Putnam's letter. 

68 Provision for Soldier's Wives and Children. 

and the financial distress which overtook the country as a concomi- 
tant of the struggle. They lost largely by the depreciation in value 
of the Continental currency, and alas! did not receive that sympa- 
thy and material aid which was due them from the officers of the 
law in charge of funds provided for those who became distressed 
because of the fortunes of the Revolutionary cause, until they were 
well-nigh driven to despair. 

Although the authorities of Pen n sylvaji ia were busity engaged 
in the summer of 1776 in furnishing and forwarding their quota of 
the "Flying Camp," which was to check the progress of the enemy 
in their march to invade the Province, they were not unmindful of 
the necessities of the wives and children who were left behind by 
those who went to the country's rescue. With reference to the ne- 
cessities of these we read in the minutes of the Council of Safety, 
July loth, 177'!. as follows: 

" Whereas the Assembly of this Province did in a former sess- 
ion Resolve, That if any Associator, called into actual service, shall 
leave a family not of ability to maintain themselves in his absence, 
the overseers of the poor, with the concurrence of one Justice of the 
Peace of the city or county where such Associator did reside, shall 
immediately make provision by way of pension, for the mainte- 
nance of such family; and a true and proper account being kept 
thereof, shall be returned to the Assembly in order that the same 
may be made a Provincial expense, and paid accordingly. And as 
it is tin; opinion of this Committee that the funds of the said over- 
seers will prove greatly insufficient whenever any considerable num- 
ber of Associators shall he drawn into actual service, and that the 
administering to the wants of such families, by the hands of the 
overseer, will not be satisfactory to the Associators, or be likely to 
answer the good ends proposed, therefore 

Resolved, That this Committee will, out of the funds of which 
they have the disposition, make such provision as shall be thought 

Mrs. Rosbrugh's Trials. 69 

necessary to answer the said purpose, and that it bo recommended 
to the Committee of Inspection and Observation of the city of Phil- 
adelphia, and the several counties in the Province to nominate and 
appoint a proper number of judicious persons residing in the said 
city and counties respectively, to distribute to such distressed fami- 
lies the allowance they shall judge reasonable. And that the said 
Committees be empowered to draw, as they shall see occasion, on 
this Board, for the necessary sums of money, to be by them lodged 
in the hands of the persons so nominated and appointed, to be ap- 
plied as above directed, the said Committees to return accounts to 
this Board of the expenditure of the same. " 

The action thus taken under the auspices of the Provincial 
government, was accepted and ratified July 29th by the Council of 
Safety under the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The provision 
was carried into effect as may be learned by the subsequent acts of 
the Committee. 

On March 20th, 1780, the Legislature followed up the commen- 
dable efforts of the previous four years in this direction, by passing 
an act for the relief of all such cases as were found to be worthy 
under the circumstances. This relief was to be afforded out of the 
funds accumulated from militia fines. Thus does it become mani- 
fest that those in authority honestly desired to alleviate the sorrows 
and necessities of those families who suffered from the loss of sup- 
port consequent upon the service or death of husbands or fathers in 
the country's cause. Was not Mrs. Rosbrugh entitled to such con- 
sideration and relief? Had she not given up her husband to suffer 
one of the most cruel of deaths for the bleeding country ? Was she 
not bereaved and needy, and w r ere not her fatherless children desti- 
tute? Had not that Council of Safety, which provided for other's 
need, commissioned her husband to serve the common cause, and 
had he not fallen in the service to which he was assigned? Could 
she not then share in the common relief? Strange as it may seem, 

70 Petitioning tlm Executive. 

she was spurned and harassed almost to despair. She applied for 
relief under the act and received an order upon the proper authori- 
ties in the county of Northampton, for such aid as might he found 
necessary in the rase, hut was from time to time refused or put off 
with useless promises. When well-nigh discouraged, as a last re- 
sort, she sent the following petition to his Excellency John Dickin- 
son, and the Executive Council of the state, under date of November 
23d, 1784. 

" To his Excellency John Dickinson, Esquire; and the 
Honorable, the Executive Council of the Commonwealth of 

The Memorial of Jane, Widow of the Rev'd John Rosbor- 
ough, late of Northampton county in said Commonwealth Most 
Respectfully Sheweth : 

That your Memorialist's late Husband, 
the Rev'd John Rosboroii2;h, to encourage the militia of said coun- 
ty of Northampton to go out in the defence of their bleeding coun- 
try, in the latter end of the year 1776, offered himself voluntarily to 
accompany them to Philadelphia, and there being solicited, duty 
and love of his country prevailed on him to accept a Chaplaincy 
in that arrangement of the American army composed of the militia 
of Pennsylvania; and a commission was accordingly made out, ap- 
pointing him to that office. In his attendance on the duties of his 
office, he was inhumanly murdered by the enemy at Trenton, on 
Jan. 2d, 1777, and your humble memorialist left a wodow with five 
small children, in circumstances, tho' at that time somewhat good. 
yet now, by the inconstancy and fluctuating state of the late circu- 
lating currency, rendered very distressing. 

A law being enacted by the Hon. Assembly of this state mak- 
ing provision for the families of those who fell in the defence of 
their country, your memorialist conceiving herself and children 

Petitioning ihs Executive. 71 

included in the salutary end and design of that act, did make appli- 
cation, but alas! she was frowned upon by the Protho notary and 
denied relief. Your memorialist, after several fruitless attempts 
made, and as many repulses received, was advised to apply to your 
honorable Board as the dernier resort; unwilling to give trouble, 
yet impelled by necessity, she did, was graciously heard, and receiv- 
ed a recommendation, signed by his Excellency the late President, 
read in Council, to those in office in said county, that upon her 
complying with the law in that case made and provided, she should 
be relieved. Full of hope, she returned, complied with said law, 
and made application again and again, like ye importunate widow, 
but met not with her success. Still turned off, with a promise of 
relief, yet never any received. To whom shall she complain of her 
wrongs? Or where shall your memorialist with her fatherless chil- 
dren look for redress of their grievances, hut to your Excellencv 
and Honors? Bear with her, necessity makes her clamorous; and 
the same makes her troublesome. She was made to hope that that 
law would yield her some relief. Your Excellency and Honors are 
the guardians of the law, and to you the oppressed and distressed 
flee for aid. If your memorialist is legally entitled to any benefit 
or advantage, to you she applies, that she may be directed, and or- 
ders given that she may obtain it. She submits her distressed case 
to your wisdoms, and entreats she may be heard, or conversed with 
on the disagreeable subject; and as in duty bound your humble 
memorialist shall pray always. 

Jane Rosixwough. 
23d Nov., 1784." 

This petition was duly considered and received the following 
indorsement, February 14th, 1785: 

"See act of Assembly, pa. 365. Minutes of Assembly, 965. : ' 

P2 Mrs. Rosbrtigh Granted Redress. 

" The case of Mrs. Roseborough and her family entitles them to 
such relief, agreeable to Act of 20th of March, 1780, as an ^Orphans 
Court of the proper county may think just and necessary, upon cer- 
tificate from the overseers of the poor, of the necessity of granting 
them some support. 

John Dickinson. 
Feb. 14th, 1785." 

Having received Mr. Dickinson's indorsement, it came duly 
before the Executive Council, it seems, on the 27th of the next 
June, and was favorably passed upon, as the following indorsement 

"Head in Council June 27th, and an order drawn for £200 in 
her favor, p'ble out of militia fines. (See minutes.)" 

From this source therefore, she received from time to time va- 
rious sums, the amount of which, up to 1789, is shown by the fol- 
lowing action of an Orphans Court, held that year: 

"Northampton County, L. S. 

An Orphans Court held at 
Kaston in and for the county of Northampton, the twenty-fifth day 
of September, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred 
and eighty-nine, before Peter Rhoads, Peter Kohler and Jacob 
Able, Esqrs, Justices &c. : 

On the petition of Jean Rosbrugh of 
Allen township, setting forth that her late husband, the Reverend 
John Rosbrugh, having been killed by the British troops at Tren- 
ton whilst he was in the service of the United States as Chaplain to 
the third battalion of Northampton county militia; that the petition 
upon proof made thereof to the Orphans Court, obtained several 

Orphans Court Proceedings. 73 

orders for the relief of herself and family, as the widow and chil- 
dren of the said deceased ; and by an order of the said court made 
on the seventeenth day of May, 1788, was to receive the full amount 
of the half pay of her husband from the time of his decease, deduct- 
ing such sums as she had already received on that account; that the 
said account not being liquidated and the specified sum payable to 
her ascertained, she has not been able to avail herself of that order ; 
praying that the court would please to settle and ascertain the 
amount payable to her, and grant an order for the same, and also 
to include in the said order the allowance to the present time. 

At the same time the said petition presented the following cer- 
tificate and account of the moneys by her received on orders made 
by this court, viz. : 

We, * John Clyde and George Neihart, Overseers of the Poor 
of Allen township, Northampton county; and f James Clyde, 
William Moftet and Johannes Michael, Freeholders, inhabitants of 
the said township, do certify that Jean Rosbrugh, wife of the Rever- 
end John Rosbrugh who was killed by the British troops at Tren- 
ton, is still a widow residing at the said township, with a family of 
five children, the eldest of whom is twenty-two, and the youngest 
thirteen, and that being deprived entirely of the support which 
they derived from the profession of Mr. Rosbrugh, and having suff- 
ered greatly by receiving part of his estate in depreciated money, 
and the widow advanced in years, we think it necessary that the 
relief intended by law for the families of militia officers, who were 
slain in the service of their country, should be extended to her. 

Witness our hands this 19th dav of June, 1780. 

* The Author's great-grand-father, and after wlioni he was called. 

f The Author's great-grand-uncle, and the father-in-law of the late Judge Jamea 
Kennedy of Northampton county, Pennsylvania, who was the father of the late Dr. Clyde- 
Kennedy, and hrother of the late Judge Robert Kennedy of Stewartsville, Warren coun- 
ty, New Jersey. , 

74 Orphans Court Proceedings. 

John Clyde. George Neihakt. Overseers of the Poor. 

James Clyde. Will'm Moffet. Johannes Michael. " 

"Account of moneys rec'd by Jean Rosbrugh, widow of the 
Reverend John Rosbrugh deceased, in virtue of orders drawn in 
her favor by the Orphans Court of Northampton county, viz. : 

From Samuel Rea, Esq., Lieut, in Con'l money £40 

Rob't Levers, Esq., Lieut, and John Hays, Lieut. 15 
David Rittenhouse, Esq., by order of Council at 

different times, paper money 300 

September 22d, 1789. Jean Rosbrugh." 

"Whereupon the Court computing from the time the Rev'd 
John Rosbrugh was killed by the British troops, viz. : the be- 
ginning of January, 1777, to the 17th day of May, 1788, and calcu- 
lated it to be 136| months, and allowing the petitioner, Jean Ros- 
brugh, half pay of a Chaplain during that time — which is ten dol- 
lars per month — and will amount to £511 17 06 

Deducting thereout the above sum rec'd 355 00 00 

£156 17 06" 

"Therefore the Court, upon consideration of all the circum- 
stances, do decree and direct that an order be drawn on John Craig, 
Esquire, Lieutenant of this county, (this being considered as such) 
directing him to pay to Jean Rosbrugh, the widow of the Reverend 
John Rosbrugh deceased, out of the moneys appropriated by law 
for such uses, the sum of one hundred and fifty-six pounds seven- 
teen shillings and sixpence, to be Considered in full for the several 
allowances heretofore made her by this court, to the seventeenth 
day of May, 1788. By the Court, 

John Arndt, Clerk.' 


Mrs. Rosbragh's Death and Burial. 75 

Such were some of the trials of Mrs. Rosbrugh consequent 
upon the death of her husband. She lived more than thirty-two 
years after his decease, dying March 27th, 1809. Upon her tomb- 
stone in the old Irish Settlement burying-ground, Allen township, 
Northampton county, Pennsylvania, may be seen the following in- 
scription : 

* "In memory of Jane Rosebrugh, who departed this life 
March twenty-seventh, eighteen hundred and nine, aged seventy 
years, relict of the Rev. John Rosebrugh, formerly pastor of this 
congregation, who fell a victim to British cruelty, at Trenton, Jan- 
uary second, seventeen hundred and seventy seven." 
"Mv flesh shall slumber in the ground 
Till the last trumpet's joyful sound; 
Then burst the chains with sweet surprise, 
And in my Saviour's image rise. " 

Thus passed away the first generation, and it now behooves us 
to turn our attention to the descendants of Mr. Rosbrugh. 


Rev. John Rosbrugh's children were 1. James, 2. Letitia, 3. 
Mary, 4. Sarah, 5. John. 

5'. John was born, probably in the year f 1770. He never married, 
and remained a resident of the Irish Settlement, Northampton coun- 
ty. Pennsylvania, at least down to the year $ 1810. The date of his 
death, it seems, is lost. Nothing definite either, appears to be 

* Genealogies, Necrology and Reminiscences of tlie Irish Settlement, by the Author 
of this Paper, p. 201. 

X Ibid, p. 276, Settlement Academy. See also History of the Allen Township Pres- 
byterian Church, p. 183, by the Author of this Paper. 

f See p. 73 of this Paper. He being the youngest child, we believe, is there certified 
to as being thirteen years old in 1789, which would put his birth ir» 1776. 

76 Second Generation. 

known as to the place of his burial, though tradition has it that he 
lies somewhere in Chester or Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. 

4. * Sarah never married. She removed to Western New York, 
in the latter part of last, or early part of the present century, where 
she died at the age of seventy-six years. She is buried near Dans- 
ville, Livingston county, Xew York. 

3. Mary married Robert Ralston, her cousin, who was the son of 
her mother's brother John, the member of the Continental Con- 
gress. They had an only child, a daughter, whom they called 

2. Letltia, b >rn April 12th, 1769, t married Samuel Ralston, her 
cousin, son of her mother's brother Samuel. We believe they have 
no descendants. Her husband died January 11th, 1795, in the 
twenty-fourth year of his affe. She never married a second time, 
but removed to Western New York, whither her brother, Judge 
James Rosbrugh had gone, in the latter part of last century. After 
living in widowhood about liftv years she died at the advanced age 
of nearly ninety, and was buried near Dansville, Livingston county. 
Xew York. 

1. James, born April :4th. 1767, at Mansfield Woodhouse, now 
Washington. Warren county, New Jersey, is the only one of Rev. 
John Rosbrugh's children by whom the name in his branch of the 
family has been preserved. He remembered the scenes in Allen 
township connected with his father's raising the military company 
and their departure for the seat of war, and dictated these with 
other things, to one of his sous, before his death, by which means 
we have written testimony from him with regard to them. 

When he had grown to manhood, £ he felt the need of a better 

* Genealogies, Necrology anil Reminiscences of the Irish Settlement, by the Author 
of this Paper, p. 128. 

f Ibid p. 118. t Ibid, see p. 317 et al. 

Second Generation. 77 

education than was afforded by "The Settlement," in which he 
lived, and began to look around for the means of obtaining the 
same. He could not leave his mother with his three sisters and a 
young brother to go to a distant school, consequently he must en- 
deavor to establish a superior school in his own vicinity. It was 
necessary to raise money to build a house and hire a teacher. He 
went among his neighbors and friends and succeeded in getting the 
means for building a commodious stone structure, known to this 
day as "The Academy. " If the traveler by the Lehigh and Lack- 
awana Rail-road, going from Bethlehem to Bath, will look out of 
the car window to the east, when within about a mile of the latter 
place, he will see this building, which is still standing. 

An accomplished teacher was employed and the project was a 
success, many receiving within its academic walls such advantages 
in learning: as before could onlv be had by going away from home 
to a distant city. Many of its scholars were fitted for usefulness, 
some became distinguished — among others George Wolf, the cele- 
brated Governor of Pennsylvania. When he went to old Mr. Wolf 
to get his subscription for the building and teacher, and to get 
him to promise to send George to school, he first met with a refusal. 
Mr. Wolf said George had already as good an education as he had, 
and he had done well enough. But, said young Rosbrugh, "clout 
you want to ffive George a chance to rise in the world? If he has 
an education he may become Governor of the State." Mr. Wolf 
laughed at the idea of his George beino- Governor, but he subscribed. 
George went to the school and became one of its best graduates. 
Having studied law, he became a member of the Legislature and 
subsequently Governor. 

October 12th, 1792, James Rosbrugh married Margaret, daugh- 
ter of Charles and Margaret McNair Wilson, of the Irish Settle- 
ment, Northampton county, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Margaret Wilson 
Rosbrugh was born May 15th, 1768, and died January 21st, 1857. 

78 Third Generation. 

In the year 1795 the family removed to what was called the 
Genesee Country, in Western New York, arriving at what was af- 
terwards their home— now Groveland, Livingston county — about 
the fourth of July. 

Mr. Rosbrugh became naturally a leader among the people, 
acting as Justice of the Peace, and representing the great county of 
Ontario — which covered all the* territory west of Cayuga bridge — 
in the State Legislature at Albany. During the war of 1812, he 
went home from Albany and raised a company among his neigh- 
bors as volunteers, was elected Captain and went with them to the 
frontier under proclamation of General Smith, who proposed an 
immediate invasion of Canada. Strange as it may seem, he here 
met, enlisted under the banner of the enemy, his cousin John Ros- 
brugh — William's sou — who had visited him in his home in Wes- 
tern New York, twelve years before, as he journeyed with his fam- 
ily from New Jersey, to take up his abode in Canada. 

He continued to perform his legislative duties at Albany, after 
the war closed, and was elected a member of the convention for the 
revision of the organic law of the state, in 1821. When Livingston 
county was formed out of Ontario, he represented it in the Legisla- 
ture — was one of the county Judges, and also the first Surrogate — 
which latter office he held many years, and which terminated his 
public life. 

He died November 18th, 1850, at his home in Western New 


Aside from Judge James Rosbrugh's children, it seems that 
Rev. Mr. Rosbrugh had grand-children only through his daughter 
Mary, who married Robert Ralston. This daughter, as we have 
seen, had an only child, Christiana. She married Robert Neely, we 

* With the third generation we adopt the modern spelling of the name, viz. : Rosebrugh. 

Fourth Generation. 

believe. When she died, or where she was buried, we have not 
been able to learn. 

The grand-children through Judge James Rosbrugh were as 
follows : 

1. Jane, born November seventeenth, seventeen hundred and 
ninety-three, married William Learning, May twenty-fifth, eighteen 
hundred and nineteen. 

2. John, born October twenty-eighth, seventeen hundred and 
ninety-five, married Mary Gohene, September seventh, eighteen 
hundred and eighteen. 

3. Charles W., born May twenty-second, seventeen hundred and 
ninety-eight, married Maria Miles, June sixth, eighteen hundred 
and twenty-one. 

4. Hugh W., was born June fifteenth, eighteen hundred. 

5. James Ralston, born July twenty-fourth, eighteen hundred and 
three, married Christiana Kelly, February sixteenth, eighteen hun- 
dred and thirty-one. 

6. Ezra, born June tenth, eighteen hundred and seven, married 
Charlotte M. Bloss, February third, eighteen hundred and thirty-six. 

7. Margaretta, born June twenty-fifth, eighteen hundred and nine, 
married Nathaniel A. Baldwin, May thirtieth, eighteen hundred 
and thirty. 


The great-grand-children of Rev. John Rosbrugh, so far as we 
have been able to learn their names, are as follows: 

The Neelys. If we have been correctly informed, the children 
of Robert and Christiana Ralston Neely w r ere as follows: 

1. Washington, of Findley, Hancock county, Ohio, who married 
Agnes Grier, daughter of Rev. J. N. C. Grier, D. D., of Brandy- 

80 Fourth Generation. 

wine Manor, Chester county, Pennsylvania, and whose children 
are Oletha and Nathan Neander. 

2. John, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and 

3. Robert, of Brandywine Manor, Chester county, Pennsylvania. 

The Leamings. The children of William and Jane Rosebru^h 
Learning were 

1. James R., born February twenty-fifth, eighteen hundred and 
twenty. He is Dr. Learning of No. 160. West 23d. St., New. York. 

2. Margaret, born March twenty-third, eighteen hundred and 

3. Sarah, born December first, eighteen hundred and twenty-four. 

4. Letiiia Ralston, born June twenty-third, eighteen hundred and 

5. Thomas J, born May sixth, eighteen hundred and twenty-nine. 

6. Jane R., born March fourth, eighteen hundred and thirty-three. 
The Baldwin-. The children of Nathaniel A. and Margaret 

Rosebrugb Baldwin were 

1. Martha M., born March sixteenth, eighteen hundred thirty-one. 

2. MargaretR., born Aug. nineteenth, eighteen hundred thirty-five. 

3. Henry A., born Sep. thirtieth, eighteen hundred thirty-eight. 

4. Jane R., born Sep. thirtieth, eighteen hundred and forty. 
The Rosebrughs. The family of John and Mary Gohene Rose- 

brugh, of Tecumseh, Lenawee county, Michigan, were as follows: 

1. Amanda, born March sixth, eighteen hundred and nineteen. 

2. James, born September sixth, eighteen hundred and twenty - 
M". resides at Ainbov. Lee conuty, Illinois. 

3. Sarah, born Feb. thirteenth, eighteen hundred and twenty-four. 

4. Anna M., born July thirteenth, eighteen hundred twenty-six. 

.">. Chas., W. born Aug. twelfth, eighteen hundred and thirty-one. 

Fourth Gcntntion. 81 

6. Francis A., born May eighth, eighteen hundred and thirty-live. 

7. Margaret B., born May twentieth, eighteen hundred thirty-eight. 

8. Patience F., born Dec. fourteenth, eighteen hundred forty-two. 
We believe one of the daughters or' ibis family married P. C. 

Hosmer of Tecumseh, Michigan. Another married Clinton Black- 
mer of Cambridge, Lenawee county, Michigan. A third married 
A. D. Hosmer of Rochester, Olmstead county, Minnesota. 

The family of Charles W. and Maria Miles Rosebrugh, of Free- 
port, Stephenson county, Illinois, were 

1. Henrietta., born Sep. eighth, eighteen hundred and two ity-three. 

2. Caroline, born Oct. twenty-eighth, eighteen hundred twenty-live. 

3. Letice R., born Aug. sixth, eighteen hundred twenty- seven. 

4. Ezra, born May first, eighteen hundred and thirty-live. 
The family of James R. and Christiana Kelly Rosebrugh, were 

1. Moses K., born March twenty-third, eighteen hundred and 
thirty-three, fie studied law, married and settled in Ohio, where 
he died. 

2. Benjamin F., horn February ninth, eighteen hundred and 

3. Daniel K., born January thirty-first, eighteen hundred forty. 

4. Christiana H., born September twelfth, eighteen hundred and 

The family of Ezra and Charlotte M. Bloss Rosebrugh of Brigh- 
ton, Monroe county, New York, were 

1. Ann/ Celestia, born July fifteenth, eighteen hundred and thirty- 
seven, died May seventh, eighteen hundred and forty-one. 

2. Emma Jane, born August tenth, eighteen hundred and forty- 
two, died August seventeenth, eighteen hundred and forty-two. 

3. Sarah Francis, born August sixth, eighteen hundred and forty- 

82 William Rosbragh's Family. 

six, died July thirty-first, eighteen hundred and fifty-three. 

Such are the links hy which the present generation are bound to 
the Clerical Martyr of the Revolution, and the scenes connec- 
ted with that dark page of American history. 



As intimated in Chapter first, the Rev. .John Rosbrugh had an 
older brother, William, with whom he came to America. * Going 
back to the family history in the old country, we find that they left 
Scotland about the vear 1720 and settled in the vieinitv of Innis 
Killen, [reland, where the parents died. In the family there were 
at least three children, viz. : William, John and Sarah. These im- 
migrated to America about the year 1740. Of the sister's history 
we have not been able to learn anything. It seems they settled 
near what is now Dannville, Independence township, Warren coun- 
ty, New Jersey. The homestead is now, we believe, a part of, or 
adjoining the property owned by the Crane Iron Company, of Cat- 

* Since the first chapter of this narrative was put in print, we have received through 
Abner M. Rosebrugh, M. D. of Toronto, Canada, a descendant of William Rosbrugh, 
and other sources, the more definite information given here. Note, that Dr. Rosebrugh's 
name is Abner M., a« here given, and not Abner A. as given on page 4. 

Second Generation. 83' 

asauqua, Pennsylvania, and leased by Mr. William Vreeland of 

It was here doubtless, that Rev. John Rosbrugh spent his early 
life, and here that he married and buried his tirst wile. Here also 
his elder brother ended his davs. The exact date of the death of 
William Rosbrugh, we have not been able to learn. It was howev- 
er, sometime previous to 1776, a fact which is revealed by the pro- 
visions of Rev. John Rosbrugh's will with reference to his (Will- 
iam's) sons. 

He married Jane Christie, who had a brother in Philadelphia en- 
gaged in mercantile pursuits. They both died a few years after 
their marriage, leaving three children, who were placed under the 
guardianship of their uncle, Rev. John Rosbrugh. 

Those of the Rosbrugh connection who died whilst residing in 
New Jersey, were most likely buried in the old Moravian graveyard 
near Hope, in Warren county. 


The children of William Rosbrugh were Sarah, Robert, John. Of 

1. Sarah there seems to he nothing now known. She probably 
died young and unmarried, an assumption which would seem to be 
substantiated by the fact that whilst the uncle, Rev. John Rosbrugh, 
their guardian, makes ;i bequest in his will to both Robert and 
John, no reference is made to their sister Sarah. 

2. Robert married Isabella Carney or Karney. 

3. John married Mary Carney, sister to Robert's wife. 

When arriving at man's estate, the two brothers engaged in the 
milling business in what is now Hope township, Sussex, now War- 
ren county, New Jersey. This property, we believe, is now known 
as Townsburry's mill, on the Request river, owned by Mr. John 
Green. They became possessed of considerable property, partly by 

84 Second Generation. 

inheritance but principally through their own industry. 
Unlike their uncle, Rev. John Rosbrugh, they sympathized with 
the mother country in the Revolutionary struggle. At the com- 
mencement of the conflict, fearing the consequences of the course- 
taken by the American people, and to protect themselves from the 
stringent measures adopted against such sympathizers — a few of 
which are hinted at in the foregoing pages — they sold all their 
property. The price was paid in Continental money which became 
well-nigh worthless at the close of the war. 

Robert moved south, about the year 1783, and settled, it is sup- 
posed, in North Carolina. All trace of this branch of the family 
has been lost by those of the connection living in the north. 

John's first wife, Mary Carney, died young, September sixth, 
seventeen hundred and eighty-six, leaving three children. He mar- 
ried, February fifth, seventeen hundred and eighty-nine, as his sec- 
ond wife, Susanna, Thatcher, grand-daughter of Samuel or Elijah 
Thatcher, who is said to have been very wealthy, and who died in 
the city of Philadelphia. ' 

Tradition has it that certain inducements were held out by the 
British authorities, for persons to remove from 'the United States to 
Canada, and that it was through this that John Rosbrugh removed 
his family thither, in 1800. On his way he visited for a few days 
with his cousin, Judge James Rosbrugh, at his home in Ontario, 
afterwards Livingston county, Western New York, who accompa- 
nied him one day on his journey, and endeavored to induce him to 
settle in Western New York. He was accompanied by the family 
of his first wife, together with the second wife's children, and they 
settled on a farm in the township of West Flamboro, two miles 
west of the town of Dundas, now the county of Wentworth, Prov- 
ince of Ontario. 

In 181"2 the two cousins met again, but then as soldiers, fighting 
under opposing banners. 

Third Generation. S5 

The children of John Rosbrugh of the second generation, by his 
first wife, Mary Carney, were 

1. William, born February fourth, seventeen hundred and eighty- 
one, and who settled in the township of South Dumfries, county of 
Brant, where many of his descendants now reside, their postoflicc 
address being Branchton, Waterloo county, Canada. 

2. Sarah, born June twenty-second, seventeen hundred and 
eighty-three, and who became Mrs. Griffin. 

3. Jane, born January twenty-first, seventeen hundred and eighty- 
five, and who became Mrs. Turner. They settled near Erie, Penn- 
sylvania, and were all believed to have perished by the burning of 
their dwelling. 

The children of John Rosbrugh of the second generation, by his 
second wife, Susanna Thatcher, were 

4. Clorinda, born April fourth, seventeen hundred and ninety-two, 
and who married Thomas Armstrong, who settled on a farm near 
St. George, county Brant, Canada West, now Province of Ontario. 

5. John Christie, born September seventh, seventeen hundred and 

6. Thomas, born October ninth, seventeen hundred and ninety- 
five, and who married Joanna S. Mulholland. They Settled on a 
farm upon which the present village of Branchton is situated, coun- 
ty of Waterloo. 

7. Robert, born January fourteenth, seventeen hundred and nine- 
ty-seven, settled on a farm adjoining the town of Paris, Ontario, 
Canada, and died about five years since. 

8. Samuel, born May fourth, seventeen hundred and ninety-eight. 

9. Abner, born July thirty-first, eighteen hundred. 

* With the third generation we adopt the modern spelling of the name, viz.: Kosebrugh. 

86 Fourth Generation. 

10. Mary, born November thirteenth, eighteen hundred and two, 
and who became Mrs. Joseph Lyons. 

11. Susanna, born May fifteenth, eighteen hundred and five, and 
who became Mrs. Hiram Hawkins. They settled in the town of 
Paris, Ontario, Canada. 


The children of William Rosebrugh of the third generation, arc 
William, John, and Enos, who reside at Branchton, Waterloo 
county; Hiram, Harrow, Essex county; Mary Ann, who became 
Mrs. Irving, Glenmorris, Brant county; Susan, who became Mrs. 
Dill, Drumbo, Oxford county; Sarah, who became Mrs. Pernbleton. 
Oxford county; and Jane, who became Mrs. Inglis, London, Onta- 
rio, Canada. 

The children of Mr. and Mrs. Sarah Rosebrugh Griffin of the 
third generation, are Mrs. William Buchanan, Branchton, Water- 
loo county. Canada. If others we have not learned their names. 

The children of Thomas Armstrong and Clorinda Rosebrugh 
Armstrong are 

1. Thomas, residing at Pontiac, Oakland county, Michigan. 

2. John, residing at Goderich, Huron county, Ontario, Canada. 

3. Benjamin, residing at St. George, Brant county. Canada. 

4. Samuel, residing at Middleville, Michigan. 

The children of Thomas and Joanna S. Mulliolland Rosebrugh of 
the third generation are 

1. William, residing at Rosebrugh's Mills, near Fayetteville, 

North Carolina. 

2. John W., M. I).. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 

3. Abner M., iff. I)., oculist and aurist, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

4. Eliza, who became Mrs. Knox, residing at Oakland, California. 

Fourth Generation. 87 

5. Eunice, who became Mrs. Sy'veeter Smith, and who resides at 
Austin, Mower county, Minnesota, 

6. Mary, who became Mrs. M. C. Moe, residing at Rochester, 
Olmstead county, Minnesota. 

7. Annie, who becameMrs. C. C. Wilson, and who resides also 
at Rochester, Olmstead county, Minnesota. 

8. Susanm, residing at Fayetteville, North Carolina. 

The children of Robert Rosebrugh of the third generation were 

1. Hiram, residing at Selton, and 2. William, residing atBothwell, 
Kent county; 3. Mrs. Hill, Paris,- 4. Mrs. Collins, Wyoming, Onta- 
rio, Canada-; 5. Mrs. McKay and 6. Mrs. Lorilla, Chicago, Illinois. 

The children of Samuel of the third generation are 1. George, and 

2. Rachel, Drumbo; 3. Mrs. Quackenbush, Dundas; 4. Emerson 
and 5. Daniel, Harwick; and (3. Mrs. Susanna Thatcher, Chatham, 

The children of Abner of the third generation, are 1. Frank, at 
Detroit, Michigan, and 2. Melvin M., at Toronto, Canada. 

The children of Joseph and Ma**y Rosebrugh Lyons of the third 
generation, are 1. Sarah, who became Mrs. Jnrvis Pronte; 2. James, 
Ayr, Waterloo county; 3. Susan, who became Mrs. Henry Engle- 
ltart, Burlington, all in Canada: 4. John and 5. Ellen, who became 
the wife of Hector Holmes, Owa^ona. Minnesota* 6. Jane, 7. Mar- 
ker and 8. Elsie Ann, who became the wife of Daniel Vaughan, all 
of Lan-'U"-. Minnesota. 

The children of Hiram and Susanna Rosebrngh Hawkins of the 
third generation, are 1. Hiram, at Bradford, Pennsylvania, and 
2. Joseph L., residing at Ottawa, Franklin county, Kansas. 

88 Fifth Generation. 

'3. Mrs. Wm. Fonger, and 4. J/>>\ W.M. Howard, of Burford, Onta- 
rio, Canada. 5. TJ/rs'. IF i/. Robinson, residing at Suisan City, Cali- 
fornia. 6. J/r6\ Edson Marlatt, residing at Pans, Canada. 


Tlu- children of Thomas Armstrong of the fourth generation, arc 
1. Alfred, 2. Charles, 3. Eunice, who became Mrs. Collingwood, 

residing at Pontiac, Oakland county, Michigan. 4. Clorind/i, who 

became Mrs. R. Furniss, of Clifton, Niagara Falls. 

The children of John Armstrong of the fourth generation, re- 
side at Goderich, Huron county, Ontario, Canada, 

The children of Benjamin Armstrong of the fourth generation, 
reside at. St. Geo-ge, Brant couuty, Canada. 

The surviving children of Mr. and Mrs. Eliza Kosebrugh Knox 
of the fourth generation, are 

1. George IF. who is a barrister, residing at Dixon, Solano couu- 
ty, California. 

Thomas II., who is an official reporter, residing at Xo. 1416, Cas- 
tro St., Oakland. California. 

The children of Mis. Jarvis Bronte of the fourth generation, are 
James, Milton. Ualton county; Charles, Watertown; William. 
Burlington; Mrs. M. Richardson, Hamilton ; Mrs. Amos Cassidy, 
I lagarsville, and Mrs. Samuel Magill, Nelson, all in the vicinity of 
Hamilton. Canada. 

The only child of Mrs. Sylvester Smith is Fay Smith, banker. Aus- 
tin, Minnesota 




As we have seen, page 84, William Rosbrugh's son John, married, Feb. 5th, 178'.). a-, 
his second wife, Susanna Thatcher, grand-daughter of Samuel or Elijah Thatcher. 

The old Thatcher homestead was in the Pohatcong valley, Warren county, X. J., eight 
or nine miles from Easton, Pa. It lay at the northern base of the range of hills which 
lie between the Pohatcong and Musconetcong creeks. Standing at the ancient residence 
and looking to the north, the eye falls upon a beautiful Landscape, filled with fertile fields 
and inviting homes. In the midst of the valley is seen the Morris and K<?;ex division of 
the Delaware, Lackawana and Western Railroad; at the further side, against the hills, 
is seen the Morris Canal ; to the left lies Newvillage, whilst in front and near at hand is 
Broadway; then stretching far to the east and west is seen the enchanting valley of the 

The Thatcher family in early days were ardent adherents of the Methodist church. 
The old homestead was long famous as a place for holding camp-meetings.. A stone 
church was built, which is now dismanteled and fast crumbling into ruins. It stands in 
acultivated field, a hundred yards or so from the public road. Near Ly is the old Thatch- 
er burying-ground, protected by a substantial stone wall, erected by the present genera- 
tion who have descended from those whose hones rest there. Here doubtless are buried 
the first of the family who came to the region, hut no inscription remains to designate 
their resting place. Of the family we have gathered the following item- of information. 

It seems the original Elijah or Samuel Thatcher hail at least one son, whose name was 
Thomas, and whose wife's name was Susanna. It seems further, that this Thomas and 
Susanna Thatcher had at least two sons, viz. : Thomas and Elisha, and four daughters, 
viz.: Sarah, Susanna, Clorinda, and a fourth whose name we have not learned. 

Of this Thomas Thatcher Jr. and his family, we have learned nothing further than the 
following tombstone inscriptions: "Sacred to the memory of Thomas Thatcher, son of 
Thomas and Susanna Thatcher, who departed this life April 13th, 1830, in the 77th, 
year of his age." ''Sacred to the memory of Aner Thatcher, wife of Thomas Thatcher, 
who departed this life August, 1845, in the 87th year of her age." 

Sarah married Garrett Howell, we believe, who resided near the Delaware Water Gap 
They emigrated to Canada in the year 1801, where their numerous descendants now re- 
side. They with a nuinher of other families from New Jersey, settled in the county of 
Wentworth, and one of the villages of the county is on that account called Jerseyville. 

Susanna, as we have seen, became the second wife of John Rosbrugh, nephew of the 
Clerical Martyr of the Revolution. 

Clorinda died single, and the following is hertombstone inscription, viz. : "In memo- 
ry of Clorinda Thatcher, who departed this life January 28th, A. D. 1826, in the G7th 
year of her age." 

90 The Thatchers. 

"Vain world, farewell to'you, I feel my soul released 

Heaven is my native air: From her old fleshly clod, 

I bid my friends a short adieu, Bright guardian, bear me up in haste 

In hopes to meet them there. And place me near my God." 

We see a namesake of her in the person of the oldest daughter of her sister Susanna 
Thatcher Rosbru gh. 

The fourth daughter married An Irew Kitchen, we believe, bu we have learned noth- 
ing definite of the family. 

Elisha married, Oct. 25th, 1796, Mary Coleman, who was born Feb. 170."). The fol- 
lowing are the inscriptions on their tombstones. "Sacred to the memory of Elisha 
Thatcher, \vh > wis bora Feb. 23d, 17<iJ. ail departed ibis life Nov. 13th, 1845: aged 7»i 
years, S months and 20 fc days." 

"The hour of my departure's conic. 

I bear the voice that calls me home; 
A' las! OJ Lord, 1 st trouble cease, 
And letjthy servant die in peace." 
"In memory of Mary Tli itch sr, wife of Elisha Thateh r, who d sparted this life April 
28th, 1843, in the 79th year of her age-" 

My friends, 1 bi 1 you all farewell. 
I cannot longer with yon dwell. 
My God from pain bath serine free, 
Prepare for death and follow me." 
Th  children of Elisha a 1 1 M i v I !ol ;m in To itch t wer3 Samusl, b >rn Oct. 23;hlS91, 
deceased, as the fallowing tombstone inscription indicates: "In memory of Samuel, sou 
ofElisha an 1 Mary Thatcher, who died Sep. J9th, 1832, aged 11 months." 

Aaron, dec ;as s 1. a? the following ins :ription in licates: "In m smory of Aaron, sua of 
Elisha and Mary That :her, born March 16th, 1810." 

Susanna, deceased, as shown by the following inscription: "Susanna, daughter of 
Elisha and Miry Thatcher, who departed this lifj Aug. 23d, 1823, aged 12 years, 4 aio's, 
and 13 lays." 

■•M> kindred friends, weep not for me 
When*in this yard my grave you see, 
My'days were few but Christ was he 
That called me to eternity." 
Thomas/ born May 2flt h, 1797, who married Elizabeth Lantz, Nov. 22d, 1822— both 
Mary, who uianied Jacob Vliet, Oct., 1820— both deceased. 

John, born Jan. 19th, 1799, who married Almira and removed to Ohio. 

The children of Thomas and Elizabeth Lantz Thatcher, were George L., who married 
Emily Adalinc Boss, March 25th, 1857, and who resides on the south side of the Pohat- 
em-» valley, about two miles west of the old Thatcher homestead. 

The Thatchers. 91 

Catharine, who is single, residing in Bloonisbury, Hunterdon county, X. J. 

Mary Ann, deceased. Her tombstone inscription is as follows: "In memory of Mary 
Ann , daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Thatcher, who died Feb. 1 Oil'. 1 830, s»ged 1 S d's." 
"An infant to its parents dear. 

Beneath this silent tomb lies here, 
lis spirit is with Christ above, 
To dwell in endless seas of love." 

The children of Jacob and Mary Thatcher Vliet were Susanna, Chettie, Mary, Ljclia, 
Garrett. Elisha, David, John, William and Abram. This family resides at Blooinsbury, 
X. J. One of the daughters married Mr. Adaai Waine, who now owns and lives on Un- 
original Thatcher homestead. 

The children of John A. and Ahnira Thatcher were, Elisha, who is married, has a 
family, and resides on the southern slope of the range of hills which separate thePohat- 
cong and Mnsconetcong valleys, about three miles east of Blooinsbury, N. J. He has 
in his possession the old Bible containing the family record of his grand-father, Elisha- 
The Bible which is supposed to have contained the family record of the Thatchers pre- 
vious to the generation to which Elisha belonged, was in his possession also until within 
a few years, but is now believed to be destroyed, nothing being left hut a few pictures 
which were in it. 

Elizabeth, born Sep. 23d, 1822, who married William Tounner; and Aseneth, who 
married John Fishbaugh, both of whom reside at Hackettstown, Warren county, N. J. 

Abram, who married Catharine , who resides al Belle Vernon; Alfred, 

who married Drucilla , residing at Upper Sandusky ; Mary, born July 25th, 

1824, who married Mr. Rummell ; Thomas, deceased, who married Miss Gibson, resi- 
ding at Tymochtee — all in Wyandot county, Ohio; Amanda, who married Robert Gibson, 
cousin to Thomas's wife; Samuel, who died single; John, deceased, as the following in- 
scription shows, "In memory of John, son of John A. and Almira Thatcher, who died 
May 3d, 1844, aged 11 days."; Susanna, deceased, as the following inscription shows, 
"In memory of Susanna, daughert of John A. and Almira Thatcher, who departed this 
life Nov 11th, A. I). 1821, aged 2 months and li days.", and Sarah, deceased, as the fol- 
lowing inscription shows, "In memory of Sarah, daughter of John A. and Almira Thatch- 
er, who died May 11th, A. D. 1840, aged 2 years and 5 days." 


The following appeared in the Bethlehem Times, Bethlehem, Pa., under the date indicated. 

"A RELIC OF NORTHAMPTON COUNTY. Weaversville, Jan. 1. 1877. 

"Editors Daily Times: Following is a copy of a receipt in my possession, original 
in the handwriting of Rev. John Rosbrugh: 

'March the fourth one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, settled with the Rev- 
erend Mr. John Rosbrugh Minister of Allen Township Congregation for one year from 
the first day of May 1775, which I have Rec'd in full of my Steeping (stipend) from said 

92 Additional as to th Uosbrughs. 

Congregation, and there is in my hand this day 1 •"» i: 19s. 5|d, as witness my hand this 
day and date above. Signi .1 JOHN R< ISBRUGH.' 

"The following circumstances relative to the death of Rev. Mr. Rosbrugh, who was 
killed at Trenton on the evening of the 2d of January, 1777, are given in the affidavit of 
Rev. George DufHeld, taken from the Pennsylvania Evening Post of April 29., 1777: 'Asa 
party of Hessian Yagers marched down the back of the town alter the Americans liad 
retreated, they fell in with him, when he surrendered himself a prisoner; notwithstand- 
ing which one of them struck him on the head with a sword or cutlass and then stabbed 
him several limes with a bayonet, whilst he implored mercy and begged his life at their 
hands. This account was given by a Hessian who said thai he had killed him i save only 

that he did nol know Mr. Rosbrugh's name, but called him a d d rebel minister) and 

ilia: Courtland Skinner and several other officers, who were present at the relation of the 
Tact, highly applauded the perpetrator for what he had done. After he was massacred 
he was stripped naked, and in that condition left lying in an open field, till taken up and 
buried near the place by some of the inhabitants.' 

"His widow afterwards received a pension from the Government. We find that the 
Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, in pursuance of an act passed March 27th. 
1790, caused an order to be drawn upon the Treasurer in favor of Mrs. Jane Rosbrugh, 
widow of Rev. John Rosbrugh, for the sum of 204£ 15s, being the amount of pension 
due to her from the 18th of May, 1788, until the 18th of May, 1790, according to the 
( lomptroller < rent ral's Reports and an < >rder of the < >rphans' < tourt ofNorthampton Co." 

ROBERT ROSBRUGH FAMILY. We have obtained the following information 
relative to the family of Robert Rosbrugh, nephew of the Clerical Martyr of the Revolu- 
tion, wdio removed south in 1783. He had at least one son, named Ililkiah, who lived 
in Ohio, hut died in Va., when about 40 years of age, leaving a son, Robert, in Va., and 
5 or 7 other sons in Ohio — e. g. Henry Rosebrugh, LoganVille, Logan Co., (.). — whilst 
some may be found in Indiana. Robert died in Bedford Co., Va., Nov. 1st, 1X77, in a 
_ id old age. an elder in the Presbyterian church, respected ]>y all. He left four daugh- 
ters — all married— the youngest of whom is the wife of Rev. John Ruff] pastor of the 
Presbyterian church ofBuford, Bedford Co., Va. The pastor of the Mossy Creek Pres- 
byterian church, Augusta Co., \'a., is also a descendant, we believe, of Robert Koshrugh 
who went to North Carolina in 17s.",. 


The following additional items of information relative to the descendants of the Cleri- 
cal Martyr of the Revolution, came to hand too late for insertion in their proper place. 
They have been furnished by Mr. James Rosebrugh, Amboy, Lee county, Illinois. 
2d Generation. James, it seems, was married October 18th, instead of 12th, 1792- 
3d Generation. Jane (Learning) died March 12th 1833. John died October 9th, 1874. 
His wife, Mary Goheen (not Gohene), was the daughter of Edward and Christiana Go- 
heen. She was born July 29th, 1800, married September 8th, instead of 7th, 18.18, and 
died May 22d, 1880. Hugh Wilson died May 17th, 1802. James Ralston is dead but the 
date of his decease we have not learned. lie had four children, all of whom are dead. 
His only surviving descendant is a little grand-son, who resides with his mother in Grove- 
land, Livingston county, New York. The family record, we believe, is in the possession 
of Mr. George Kelly, brother of Mr. Rosebrugh's wife. His wife, Christiana Kellv, was 
the daughter of Major Daniel and Mary Kelly. Ezra died February 2d, 1877. 
Margaret (Baldwin) died October 11th, 1840. 

4th Generation. Miranda (not Amanda), daughter of John and Mary Goheen, was 
bom March 16th instead of 6th, 1800, married Bazaleel Alvord, born .Line 4th, 1814, 
son of Chester and Susan Alvord, July 27th, 1887, and died March 16th, 1838. James 
married, November 8th, 181'.). Sarah Lucretia Bottom, born January 12th, 1822, daught- 
er of David and Lucretia Bottom. Amu Maria married, October 30th, 1854, John 
Wesley Norris, born July 23d, 1828. He died July 12th, 1852. She married, April 2d, 
1862, Clinton A. Blackmer, son of Cileries and Klean >r Blaekmer. John Ralston, a son 
whose name we had not learned, born January 5th, 1829, married, November 9th, 1852, 
Julia E., born February 14th, 1832, daughter of Ashel and Elizabeth Taylor. Charles 
Wilson died at Camden, South Carolina, February 5s7th, ISG5, while with Sherman on 
his march upon Richmond. He entered the service in the 13th Illinois volunteers, serv- 
ed his three years and reenlisted for the war. Margaret Baldwin married, December 
25th, 1807, Alonzo Dee, born April 13th, 1835, son of Alonzo and Asenith Hosmer. 
Patience Elizabeth married, December 25th, 1867, Sylvester Perry (not P. C.) Hosmer, 
brother of Margaret's husband, and who was born October 11th, 1842. 

5th Generation. The children of James and Lucretia Bottom IJosebrugh of the 4th 
generation were, Theron Alexis, born August 12th, 1851. Kate Ariel, born September 
18th, 1853, married, December 24th, 1879, Frederic Lyman Geddes born November 10th, 
1850, son of Norman and Laura Casey Geddes. James C. Clark, born May 8th, 1857. 
The son of John Ralston and Julia Taylor Rosebrugh of the 4th generation, is Harry 
Pierpont, born July 31st, 1853. The daughter of Alonzo Dee and Margaret Baldwin 
Rosebrugh Hosmer of the 4th generation, is Mary Rosebrugh, born September 19th, 1S68. 
The children of Sylvester P. and Patience Elizabeth Rosebrugh Hosmer of the 4th gene- 
ration, are Asenith Beddlecomc, born December 9th, 1S68, and John Rosebrugh, born Jan- 
uary 28th, 1872.